With the NBA Draft Lottery set to take place on Tuesday night, it seems like a good time to discuss the Sixers’ recent struggles.
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“I’m Gonna Make You Work, and You Can’t Guard Me” is a song by American rapper Lil Uzi Vert. The song’s lyrics revolve around the protagonist bragging about how he is going to make his opponent work hard for him and that they can’t guard him.
Many basketball enthusiasts feel that while playing for the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan is a basketball player who was born in cemented his claim to the NBA GOAT moniker. What if he wasn’t even the best player of his age, much alone the greatest of all time? Jordan had multiple run-ins with Hall of Fame inductee Drexler, Clyde during his time in the league. Even 20 years after his career ended, Clyde the Glide refused to declare that His Airness was a greater player than he was, despite the fact that MJ’s résumé is stronger than his.
Clyde Drexler had a Hall of Fame career in the NBA.
Clyde Drexler joined the NBA one year before Michael Jordan was chosen by the Bulls. In 1983, he was selected 14th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers and scored 7.7 points per game as a rookie.
Drexler, on the other hand, was one of the top players in the NBA from 1984 to 1985. From 1986-87 through 1991-92, the Houston product averaged over 21.0 points per game after averaging 17.8 points in his second and third seasons combined. In both 1987-88 and 1988-89, he averaged at least 27.0 points per game.
Drexler averaged 20.8 points, 5.7 assists, and 6.2 rebounds in 11 seasons with the Blazers, earning him eight All-Star berths. He subsequently spent the last four seasons of his career with the Houston Rockets, where he averaged 19.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists.
While Jordan played in the East, the 6-foot-7 shooting guard spent his whole career in the Western Conference. However, there were significant confrontations between the two, particularly in the 1992 NBA Finals, when Clyde’s Blazers faced Jordan’s Bulls. Although the Chicago Bulls won the series 4-2, MJ averaged 35.8 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game, the Portland Trail Blazers finished with 24.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game.
Drexler went on to win the NBA title with the Rockets in 1995.
So, how does Drexler’s track record compare to Jordan’s?
- Hall of Fame inductee
- All-Star for the 10th time
- Five-time NBA All-Star
- Champion of the NBA
- 20.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.0 steals, 47.2 percent field goal percentage (career averages)
- Hall of Famer
- 14-time All-Star selection
- 11-time NBA All-Star
- NBA MVP five times
- Defensive Player of the Year is a title awarded to a player who excels on defense
- NBA six-time champion
- MVP of the Finals six times
- 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals, and 49.7% field goal percentage in his career.
MJ’s is unquestionably superior, but don’t tell Drexler.
Clyde Drexler will not admit that Michael Jordan was the superior player.
On June 22, 2018, Clyde Drexler played in a BIG3 game. | BIG3/Getty Images/Ronald Martinez
Drexler, who last played in the NBA in 1997-98, went on the In the Zone with Chris Broussard Podcast in 2018 and didn’t exactly provide a clear response when asked who the NBA GOAT was.
On the April 11, 2018 broadcast, he claimed, “When you average 50 points and 25 rebounds — Wilt Chamberlain, who’s ever done that?” “… Michael was a fantastic player and one of the best I’ve ever faced, but who was ever better than Kareem, Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Bird, or Magic?” Who could have beaten those guys? It’s difficult to tell who is superior.”
So, when asked whether he was better than Jordan, he didn’t necessarily answer yes, but he also wouldn’t give MJ the edge.
Drexler said, “I always felt that there was nobody greater if I played the way I should have played.” “There will be very few men better than me if I come out and compete….” I believe I am capable of competing with anybody.”
“The difference is, if you take 35 shots and I take 20, you’re going to have more points – bottom line,” he concluded. But I’m going to make you labor, and you won’t be able to protect me. So, you look at it this way: no matter who’s on me, I can still do whatever I can. What can I do to stop you?… I can make you shoot a lower percentage by forcing you to work harder. So that’s how you’re thinking: you’re going to make him earn everything.”
Michael Jordan allegedly told a Bulls teammate that Clyde was on par with him.
Drexler made a compelling case, but it’s difficult to argue with Jordan’s track record.
Jordan’s former Bulls teammate Craig Hodges, however, said in 2020 that His Airness recognized Clyde was as talented as he was; he just didn’t know how to promote himself.
Hodges told VladTV, “Not every great athlete is marketable like that, and they have just as much potential.” “I recall having a talk with someone once. We were basically four of us, including MJ. And then there was the topic of Clyde Drexler. ‘Clyde Drexler is just as good as me,’ Michael Jackson stated. He just does not understand how to play the game.’ Do you understand what I’m saying? We’re not talking about basketball here.”
If Drexler had learned how to sell himself, he may have been as popular as Jordan. It’s also possible that taking additional photographs might have helped. But because we’ll never know for sure, history books will always praise Michael Jackson above everyone else from that period.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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