It’s always fun to look back at drafts – NBA, in particular – and see who was taken where and when. Who was overrated? Who was underrated? What franchises made the biggest mistakes?
Clyde Drexler is an interesting case study. In 1983, the future NBA champion, Olympic gold medalist and Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame inductee was selected 14th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Which means, in theory, there were 13 players better than Drexler that year.
There were not.
Yes, that draft had some good players, including Byron Scott (fourth overall, San Diego) and Dale Ellis (ninth overall, Dallas). But who the heck is Russell Cross, who was drafted sixth overall by Golden State?
“Let’s start at No. 1,” an incredulous Drexler said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “A guy named Ralph Sampson. Now, he was pretty good. He’s 7-4. So you could understand that, maybe. Maybe. No. 2, Steve Stipanovich. You got to be kidding me. Come on. We’re Phi Slama Jama. How do you not pick me? We go to the Final Four two years in a row.”
Wait a minute, is this still a thorn in Drexler’s side? Is this something the 52-year-old still thinks about?
“You know we’re all competitive,” Drexler said. “We’re all competitive. I couldn’t believe you picked those bums ahead of me. You got to be kidding me. And then hold up. Here’s the bad part. I was supposed go third to the Rockets. They have the first and the third pick, so they picked Rodney McCray instead of me. Good player. No problem. Then we get all the way to No. 12, and it’s the Knicks’ pick. And I’m thinking, ‘There’s a reason I wasn’t picked by the Rockets – because I’m going to New York.’
“And with the 12th pick, the Knicks picked Darrell Walker. And the fans of the Knicks are calling my name. ‘Drexler! Drexler!’ And they said Darrell Walker. I said, ‘You have got to be kidding me.’ I love Darrell Walker, but Jesus Christ!”
Drexler faced Walker, an Arkansas standout, a couple of times during his Houston career.
“We played them two or three times,” Drexler said. “They got to see us (go head-to-head) many times. And you picked Darrell Walker? And that’s when I said, ‘You know what? There are a lot of general managers who don’t know anything about this game.’”
In any event, Drexler had a marvelous career. Aside from his aforementioned accomplishments, he was a 10-time All-Star, so he knows a thing or two about All-Star Weekend and what it means. He also understands why Carmelo Anthony wants to play in the All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden this Sunday – despite the fact that he may need knee surgery.
“Carmelo’s been a great professional for many years,” Drexler said. “He’s got a terrible team, and you got to think his health long-term is probably going to be a little bit more important. And it’s not just his decision. It’s the doctors’ (decision). So he’s the voice of that decision. And so, when they tell him to shut it down, he wants to play in the All-Star game because he deserves it.”
Playing with fellow All-Stars? That would be a welcome change from suiting up for the Knicks, who are a league-worst 10-43.
Said Drexler, “At least he’ll get to be on a good team for once this year.”