As of yet, Clyde Drexler hasn’t seen “The Last Dance.” He lived it, after all.
But he does hope the documentary pays proper homage to a special age of NBA basketball. He laid out that sentiment in a recent interview on “The A-Team with Wexler & Clanton” on SportsTalk 790 (KBME-AM)
“That’s Michael’s documentary, of course, obviously it’s going to be from his perspective, and it was a golden era and everybody’s entitled to their own opinion,” Drexler said on the show. “In that era, there were nothing but men, real men who played. And a lot of times guys didn’t like each other from other teams.
“But as you get older, you gotta get beyond all of that and show some love and some respect for the people you played with and against, and I hope Michael is able to do that in this documentary.”
Whether Jordan did or didn’t show the proper respect to his compatriots in “The Last Dance” is a matter of opinion. Some former Bulls teammates — most notably, Horace Grant, who was interviewed for the film — have publicly voiced frustrations with their portrayals.
On Drexler, Jordan said in a present-day interview: “Clyde was a threat… But me being compared to him, I took offense to that.”
Drexler saw his mini-rivalry with Jordan, which crested in the 1992 NBA Finals, as about more than individual performance, though.
“This is a team game! It’s not one guy. You could have 50 points and 40 rebounds, but if you lose, are you less of a player than anyone on the other team?” Drexler said in the interview. “I hate when people act like it’s an individual competition. If it was, you could quantify that. But in Portland, we had a team structure… My job was to score and to get other people involved and make them better. And I did that very well by evidence that we were in the Finals.”
The Blazers did fall to the Bulls in six in that series. Drexler’s glory would have to wait until 1995, when he won a chip with the Houston Rockets in a season that coincided with Jordan’s reassimilation back into basketball after briefly retiring to pursue a career in baseball.
But even though those years are long behind Drexler, historical player comparisons will continue to rage for all-time. Drexler took exception to how the GOAT debate, specifically, is framed by most as being a conversation between only Jordan and LeBron James.
“I have a real problem with that. Because out of all the guys that play the game, for you to have a conversation, are these two guys the GOAT, when you got Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, two of the greatest players to ever live. I think you start with those two,” Drexler said. “And then you’ve got guys like Dr. J, Larry Bird, George Gervin, Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, all those guys are in the conversation. And so for people to bring this up today, to me, it’s just unbelievable.
“I love Michael and LeBron. But still, let’s not take something away from those other guys who played.”
With takes as impassioned as these before viewing the doc, it will be interesting to see if Drexler ever sits down to watch “The Last Dance,” and what his eventual take on it ends up being.