Drexler on 75th Anniversary Team, Lillard's future, Green and Rockets' potential

Published April 14, 2022, 10:00 AMJC Ansis

Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler talks about making the 75th Anniversary Team, the future of Damian Lillard, and the potential of Jalen Green and the Rockets.

Hall of Famer and NBA legend Clyde Drexler recently took part in another edition of NBA Connections—a meet-and-greet session with an NBA player or legend hosted for NBA partners in the Asia-Pacific region—to give his thoughts on making the 75th Anniversary Team, the future of Damian Lillard, and the potential of Jalen Green and the Rockets.

Editor's note: This interview was slightly edited for brevity and clarity.

On being part of the 75th Anniversary Team

It's a tremendous honor because, think about it, there have been several great, incredible players to play this game we call basketball. So to be in the top 50, then in the top 75, it's a tremendous honor because growing up as a kid, you never think if I'd be good enough to make those teams. It's a great legacy. It just shows that your game compares to some of the all-time greats and it's great company to be in.

On whether or not he could adapt to today's game

I probably drove to the basket more than any guy in NBA history, right? Every single night I'm driving 12, 15 times to the basket. I don't think anybody does that in today's game. What if you take away those 7-footers? How much do you think I would drive in today's game?

Now I can shoot the 3, and I can shoot the midrange better than anybody, but if you can't stop me from getting to the rim and finishing, why should I ever shoot one of those long shots? The game is about efficiency, right? We're trying to win so I know I'm a good 3-point shooter, but you're not going to shoot much more than 35, 40 percent out there, unless you're Steph Curry or Klay [Thompson]. But when I got to the basket, that's an 80, 90 percent efficiency shot. So which one are you going to do if you're trying to win? I'm going to take it to the basket, especially if there's no rim protector. So you can imagine how I would do in today's game.

On Damian Lillard and his future with Portland

He stays out of trouble and keeps his head down. He doesn't always try to get in the media. So from that standpoint, he's a good guy and that's what I like about Dame. And when it's time to perform, he's there. He doesn't miss many games… he missed a lot of games this year because of injuries, but that's expected in year 9, 10, 11. For the most part, he's a phenomenal player. I hope he gets healthy, and I hope they get him some talent to play with because he deserves to have a run at a championship. And if he doesn't get it in Portland, he may have to go elsewhere like I had to do.

If a team is not going to bring pieces to help you win, if you're a good player, you can stay there and be an icon in that city or you can say, ‘you know what, I want to have a chance to win while I can still play.’ I'm the ultimate competitor, and that's why I left because I always want to fight for a chance to win. Then when I turned 35, I retired because you can't do what you used to do. I could have played three or four more years and came off the bench and milked it, but I’m not that guy… I’m playing to win.

On Jalen Green and the young Houston Rockets

First of all, he has a lot of talent. He's young and he seems to be a very nice young man. But has any young team in the history of basketball had a lot of success? The last time that [a team] tried that was the Lakers. They had all those No. 1 picks and traded about four or five of them for LeBron James. The Rockets were last this year and last year in the whole league. They're young and they have some young talented players but you don't know how good they're going to be. Because when you're on a bad team, when you’re down 20, there are no expectations. You can just free stroke it and there's no pressure. But when you get on a team that actually has expectations, you have to be efficient. That's when you see what guys can do. They have yet to be put in that position, but I think they can do it. But until they do it, we don't know.

On playing for the Dream Team

It was a great experience, the ‘92 Dream Team was the best team to ever play, ever assembled. I'm not biased [laughs]. For the most part, those guys were incredible, just great guys on and off the court. It was a tremendous honor to be on that team, and we had so much success. We got along so well throughout that whole time, so it was a great moment in time.

On the team he wants to go on a deep playoff run

The Trail Blazers and the Rockets are my two favorite teams, so I always root for them. But when they're not in the playoffs or doing well, all I wanna see is good games. May the best team win, whoever that may be. But I'm kind of rooting for Chris Paul. It'd be nice to see him get a championship.