Drexler Vows to Become NBA Coach
Drexler, still one of the most popular sports figures in Houston, is getting antsy again after four years of doing TV color commentary for Rockets games, just biding his time before beginning his NBA coaching career. Drexler, 47, starred as a high-school, college and NBA player – all in the city -- and it only makes sense that one day he would be coaching here again.
"I'm going to coach in the NBA. I don't know where, but I am. And I'll be a good one," Drexler told FanHouse over the weekend. "When I turn 50, that's what I'll be doing. The timing will be perfect."
He already is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, a crowning achievement for a 10-time All-Star and member of the original Dream Team that won the Olympic Gold Medal for the United States in 1992.
His playing career was a study in persistence, something he will take back into coaching. At the University of Houston, he played on the famed "Phi Slam Jamma,'' team that twice reached the NCAA Final Four, only to fall short of a championship. At Portland, he led the Trail Blazers twice to the NBA Finals, only to lose both times.
It wasn't until he was traded home to the Rockets that he won his championship in 1995 when he teamed with former college teammate Hakeem Olajuwon. Not a bad career for guy who was drafted 14th in 1983, long after people like Steve Stipanovich, Russell Cross, and Ennis Whatley.
"I had a pretty good career. A lot of things went right," he said.
Drexler doesn't paint a pretty picture of the current Rockets team that will face an uphill battle this season. He winces. Ron Artest is gone, having signed with the Lakers. Yao Ming has been lost for the season after foot surgery that threatens his career. Tracy McGrady isn't expected to return until mid-season.
"The Big Three is no longer there. Replacing them will be a monumental task," said Drexler, who was in Orlando to help support Shepherd's Hope, a non-profit charity that provides health care for the poor and uninsured. "I like their young guys, but it might take a year to develop. Just making the playoffs now would be a great season."
Drexler tried coaching once, but it didn't go very well. He went directly from playing with the Rockets to coaching the University of Houston, a program then in desperate need of a makeover. He managed only a 19-39 record in two seasons (1999-2001) before returning to private business.
If he follows Adelman, the transition would be an easy one. Drexler played for Adelman in Portland when they reached the NBA Finals, and he's been studying Adelman from a television perspective (he only does home games) since Adelman came to Houston in 2007 to replace Jeff Van Gundy.
"The TV has been great. It has kept me involved, in tune with the league. I wanted to be around home until my kids all went off to college. My fourth one leaves in a couple years. When that happens, I'll start coaching. My work at home will be done, and I'll be free to do anything I want, and that's coaching in the NBA."