Clyde Drexler served as the men's basketball head coach at the University of Houston from 1998 to 2000. During that time, he assembled a 19-39 record and went 8-24 in Conference USA play.
Drexler surprised the world on March 18, 1998, when he announced that he was retiring from the NBA after a stellar 15-year career and becoming the head coach at his alma mater.
Local network affiliates opened their news broadcasts with the press conference announcing his hiring. The event was carried live nationally by ESPN and CNN. National media interest continued throughout when Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Basketball Times, USA Today, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Examiner and ABC's Good Morning America featured stories highlighting his first year as head coach.
Fan interest swelled. Season-ticket sales more than quadrupled, and for the first time in school history, Hofheinz Pavilion was sold out for the entire season.
With the increased attendance, the Cougars' recruiting efforts improved. In 1999-00, Gee Gervin, Drexler's first signee, became the first Cougar to receive All-Conference USA First-Team honors.
In November 1999, he inked George Williams, the first time since 1984 that the Cougars signed the Houston Chronicle's All-Greater Houston Player of the Year. In addition, Bernard Smith, the 1997 All-Greater Houston Player of the Year returned to his hometown after playing as a freshman at Texas.
ON THE COURT
High expectations resulted in Houston winning its first Conference USA road game in three years when the Cougars knocked off Memphis and USF in back-to-back contests. By the end of the season, only five points kept the Cougars from a second-place finish in C-USA's National Division.
A STERLING BEGINNING
That season, he scored 33 points and grabbed 24 rebounds against Sharpstown High in the semifinals of the Houston Jaycees Tournament.
Following his senior campaign, he and Michael Young, one of his closest friends, signed to play at Houston in 1980.
Drexler and Young became the first two freshmen forwards to start under legendary Cougar head coach Guy V. Lewis.
He enjoyed an outstanding freshman season when he was chosen as the 1981 Southwest Conference Newcomer of the Year after averaging 11.9 points per game. His 10.5 rebounding average that season were the most by a Cougar since the 1974-75 season.
The Cougars finished the 1980-81 season with a 21-9 overall record, tied for second in the SWC race and played in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years.
MARCHES TO THE FINAL FOUR
The Cougars won their first SWC regular-season title in 1983 with a perfect 16-0 record and ended the regular season as the nation's No. 1 team in the AP and UPI polls.
Drexler received All-America First-Team honors after leading Houston's fame Phi Slama Jama team to a second straight NCAA Final Four and UH's first national championship game appearance.
He averaged a career-high 15.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game while earning USBWA District VI Player of the Year honors.
The Cougars defeated Louisville 94-81 in the national semifinals in Albuquerque, N.M. That amazing exhibition of dunks and spectacular plays is still considered one of the best games in NCAA Tournament history.
In the title game, Houston was upset by NC State in one of the most memorable NCAA Tournament games ever played and finished the season with a 31-3 overall record.
Following his All-America campaign, Drexler relinquished his final season of eligibility. He ended his playing career at Houston as the only Cougar to amass 1,000- points, 900 rebounds, 300 assists and 250 steals. He continues to hold the Houston record with 268 career steals.
HISTORIC NBA CAREER
He ended his career finished 17th on the NBA's career scoring lists with 22,195 points and four on the steals list with 2,207. He also recorded 25 triple-doubles during his career.
In November 1996, Drexler joined fellow Cougars Hakeem Olajuwon and Elvin Hayes as the only three players from one school to each score more than 20,000 points in the NBA.
In 1997, Drexler was named one of the Top 50 Players in NBA History, joining Olajuwon and Hayes. He also was a member of the original Dream Team that won the 1992 Olympic Gold Medal in Barcelona.
Drexler was selected to play in 10 NBA All-Star Games and appeared in nine. He was named to the All-NBA First Team in 1992, the Second Team in 1988 and 1991 and the Third Team in 1990 and 1995. In 1992, he was a runner-up for the NBA's MVP Award.
His NBA career began in 1983 when the Portland Trailblazers made him the 14th pick in the first round of the NBA Draft. He played more than 11 seasons with Portland and became the franchise's all-time leader in 10 different categories, including games played, minutes played, points, total rebounds, offensive rebounds and steals.
He led the Trailblazers to the playoffs during each of the 11 seasons and to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992.
RETURN TO HOUSTON
Two years later, Drexler and Olajuwon led Houston to the 1997 Western Conference finals.
In 1997-98, Drexler led the Rockets with 18.4 points per game and added 4.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Late in the season, he made the surprising announcement of his retirement.
JOINS COACHING RANKS
Following his retirement Drexler mapped a life of traveling around the world with his wife Gaynell and their four children Erika, Austin, Adam and Elise.
However, those plans changed when he accepted the head coaching position at Houston.
A NEW DIRECTION