Sunday’s ‘Rip City Revival’ on NBA TV provided a few favorable highlights from the Portland Trail Blazers and Clyde Drexler vs. the Chicago Bulls in the 1992 Finals.
Obviously, a documentary aimed at painting the Trail Blazers 1989-92 successful era in a positive light is going to cover certain events differently. The 1992 Finals weren’t portrayed as the complete Michael Jordan one-man domination show that was shown recently on ESPN’s “The Last Dance.”
But, even more than that, it’s what the players had to say then and now that was a bit different on the ‘Rip City Revival’ versus ‘The Last Dance.’
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Make no mistake, the Trail Blazers hour-long special that ran on NBA TV provided the story of the 1992 NBA Finals as being the Clyde vs. MJ showdown.
“Big storyline going into that series was Michael and Clyde." Terry Porter said on ‘Rip City Revival.’ "At the time they were one, two in the MVP voting.”
However, instead of having MJ “take offense” to being compared to Drexler like he said in 'The Last Dance,' there were several compliments paid to each other that both players had made back in 1992.
‘The Rip City Revival' took a look back at a 1992 NBA Finals interview with Drexler and NBC’s Ahmad Rashad.
Drexler told Rashad with a smile on his face, “I think it’s an honor to be compared to Michael Jordan, even though I’m older than him. I think there are many similarities, but I think the most important thing is – both of us play to win.”
While Jordan said in a 1992 interview, “Clyde is somewhat of a mirror of me in a sense. I mean, he’s so versatile. He plays offense. He plays defense. He’s good with assists. He can score. So, you’ve got to respect him in all areas of basketball.”
Now, fast forward back to the present, when ESPN featured the 1992 Finals as a major storyline in episodes five and six, and Jordan mentioned how he will never forget that so many compared him to Drexler.
Clyde was a threat. I’m not saying he wasn’t a threat, but me being compared to him, I took offense to that. -- Michael Jordan on Clyde Drexler on The Last Dance
From Game 2 to Game 6 of the 1992 Finals, the Bulls had just a 10-point differential in the series.
So, if Portland could take Game 1 out of the equation where Jordan took right at the Blazers, maybe there wouldn’t have been as much talk from MJ about Drexler nowadays. Maybe? Okay, no, there probably still would be.
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In the Trail Blazers special, this is all Drexler had to say about the comparisons:
They were always saying the best two guards in the league – Jordan, Drexler and now they’re in the Finals we’re gonna see which one of them is going to come through.
Buck Williams, who became the last piece to the Trail Blazers puzzle of success in the early 90s, shed some light on the Drexler and MJ battles.
“Clyde wanted an opportunity to play with Jordan. Clyde may not say that to this day, but being a great player, I know that Clyde wanted to match up with Jordan."
Willliams added, “I heard that Michael really wanted to make a point that, hey, everybody is saying, 'you know Clyde Drexler this, Clyde Drexler that.'
After the first game when MJ dropped 35 points in the first half and the Bulls beat the Blazers 122-89, Bulls big man Horace Grant told the media, “I’ve never seen Michael play like this, shoot the ball like this. It was incredible.”
In the NBA TV special on the Trail Blazers, Buck Williams was the one to speak on MJ’s game one performance, saying, “I think it was a message, the warning shot to the Trail Blazers and to our guards that, ‘hey, man, you guys – you’re out of your league, you can’t stop me.’ At the end of the day, I’ve never seen Jordan shoot the ball like that.”
So, there was no iPad of Drexler listening to what MJ had to say or anything similar to that like we saw in ‘The Last Dance,’ because after nearly 28 years since the 1992 Finals, Drexler declined to dismiss any of his opponents while taping ‘Rip City Revival.’
Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri.