“Clyde was a threat. I’m not saying he wasn’t a threat, but me being compared to him, I took offense to that,” Jordan said.
Drexler’s Hall of Fame NBA career
Drexler entered the NBA one year before Jordan. The Trail Blazers selected Drexler with the No. 14 pick in the 1983 NBA Draft, and he averaged 7.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 17.2 minutes over 82 games.
Then, Drexler made a leap in his second season and never looked back. He scored at least 21.5 points per game every year from 1986 through the 1991-92 season.
Drexler averaged 20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.7 assists in 34 minutes over 867 games in 12 years with the Trail Blazers. He then finished his career with the Houston Rockets, where he won an NBA championship in 1995. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard averaged 19 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists in 36.7 minutes over 219 games in four years with the Rockets.
In 1992, Drexler led the Trail Blazers to the NBA Finals against Jordan's Chicago Bulls.
Drexler had one of his best years; he barely missed winning the NBA MVP award and looked like a real threat against Jordan. However, he couldn't dethrone the Bulls, who beat the Blazers in a hard-fought six-game series to secure their second straight NBA title.
Nonetheless, MJ's respect was earned.
Just as good, not as marketable
In 2020, Jordan’s former Bulls teammate Craig Hodges said on VladTV that the six-time NBA champion finally admitted Drexler was as good as he was but didn’t market himself properly.
“Not every great athlete is marketable like that, and they have just as much talent,” Hodges noted. “I remember having a conversation one time. It was like four of us, MJ included. And the conversation came up about Clyde Drexler. And MJ said this, and I quote: ‘Clyde Drexler is just as good as me. He just don’t know how to play the game.’ Do you follow me? And we ain’t talking about basketball.”
Drexler earned MJ's respect on the court. However, the Bulls legeld always felt like the Blazers' shooting guard could've done more in terms of building his brand in the Association. But he in no way underestimated "The Glyde," and the two developed a mutual respect and became friends.
“I spend more time with Clyde Drexler, playing golf with Clyde Drexler, knowing that the competition in ’92, we was Portland against Chicago, who’s better, who’s blah blah blah,” Jordan remarked. “We play golf, we joke around, we text each other. To me, that’s the product of what the Dream Team did. We talk all the time.”
“If I’m in Florida, I’m definitely going to call him,” Drexler explained. “Or if we meet anywhere, if he happened to be in Pebble or Cabo or any of the places where we go to play, we’ll always touch bases and see if we can hook up.”