KERRY EGGERS ON SPORTS/Trail Blazers great returns to his home city and finds he has escaped damage; support for others affeted ‘a beautiful thing’
By luck of the draw, Clyde Drexler wasn’t in the eye of the storm when Hurricane Harvey hit southern Texas last week.
The greatest player in Trail Blazers history and Naismith Basketball Hall-of-Famer was on a trip with his wife, Tonya, when Harvey blew through Clyde’s native Houston. But he didn’t leave town to avoid the fury.
“I’ve been gone most of the summer,” Drexler said Wednesday, his first day back at his home in Southwest Houston near Royal Oaks Country Club. “We get out of here when the weather gets hot.”
Drexler’s home suffered no damage from the hurricane that devastated much of the Greater Houston metropolitan area, with 71 confirmed fatalities and economic losses of at least $70 billion.
“Our area is at some elevation, and the flooding didn’t get into any of our homes,” Drexler said. “We were very lucky.”
Drexler knows many Houstonians weren’t as fortunate.
“When you get 50 inches of rain, water has nowhere to go,” he said. “There was an awful lot of damage.”
Some of those close to Drexler fall into that category.
“I’ve talked to a couple of buddies who had all kinds of water damage in their homes,” said Drexler, 55, who retired after the 1997-98 season. “They had to move in with relatives until they can get their home repaired. A lot of stuff like that is going on.”
Drexler was pleased to hear of the immediate efforts to help those in need and the money donated in the relief effort.
“People in Houston are very resilient,” he said. “People have come together over this, and it’s a beautiful thing. This city bounces back quickly.
“And the city has been well-supported by people from all over. That’s what this country is all about.”
Drexler’s busy summer included a stint coaching one of eight teams in the BIG3 three-on-three league that drew surprising interest from basketball fans. Drexler’s team, which finished fourth, featured ex-NBA players Cuttino Mobley, Corey Maggette, DeShawn Stevenson and Jerome Williams.
“Both Cuttino and Corey got injured,” Drexler said. “We had a pretty good team, but we never got healthy. But it was fun to be a part of it. I truly enjoyed it.”
One of Drexler’s assistant coaches was his son, Adam, who played some at Loyola Marymount and the University of Houston. Adam, 23, was cut in tryouts for the Rockets’ summer-league team.
“It looks like he’s going to be a member of Houston’s G-League team (the Rio Grande Valley Vipers) next season,” Drexler said. “In my opinion, he has become a damn good player. He’s a late-bloomer — 6-6, with long arms, a super athlete, a good defender, and he can score.
“He hasn’t even touched his potential. He’d be a perfect small forward in the NBA. If the Trail Blazers would bring him to camp, he’d make their team.”
Drexler said his other three children are doing well.
Daughter Erica has a master’s degree in divinity and his working toward a career as a Christian clinical psychologist in the Houston area.
Daughter Elise, a graduate of the UCLA film school, “is shooting a movie in Hood River for her thesis as we speak,” Drexler said.
Son Austin, a graduate of the USC film school, works as a video-game maker and a 3D animator in Burbank, California.
“Life is good with me and my family,” Drexler said. “I couldn’t ask for more.”