Courtesy of NBA-TV via YouTube, recently I discovered what I am hereby designating as the coolest two minutes and 12 seconds of basketball footage I'm ever likely to behold: the 10 greatest dunks by Clyde Drexler, the Hall of Fame guard for the Portland Trail Blazers.
While writing this, I just turned away from the computer a moment to glance at the autograph picture I have of Clyde on the wall here at the office of BJL Enterprises. In this shot, he's doing more of a finger-roll. But he could slam the ball as well as about anyone, even the two principal dunk-rivals of his generation: Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins. Michael's free throw dunk? Check. Dominique's windmill slam? Present and accounted for.
And without further ado, I give you these gems from #22...
#10: Against the dreaded Lakers, after a James Worthy miss, Glyde catches an alley-oop one-handed and slams it at Memorial Coliseum.
#9: This time he dunks on the Pistons’ Bill Laimbeer, possibly in the 1990 NBA Finals. "He just exploded down the right base line,” says commentator Dick Vitale. (Vitale's done NBA?) This is a nice consolation prize for losing the series. Wish he could have dunked on Isaiah too.
#8: Clyde dunks on 7-foot-7-inch Manute Bol of the Warriors, the tallest player in NBA history. “Clyde’s not going to enter the Slam Dunk Contest this year,” the commentator says, “but the way to win that thing would probably be to bring Manute Bol and dunk over him, because that is incredibly impressive.”
#7: On a breakaway against San Antonio with no one within 10 feet, Clyde does an exquisite windmill dunk. Commentator: “He’s got 27. What a show by The Glyde!”
#6: Against the Lakers, Drexler drives right down the middle of the lane, squeaking between Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Nice.
#5: After intercepting a pass on the other end of the court against Houston, Clyde drives the length of the hardwood and weaves between three defenders, finishing off by dunking on former #1 draft pick Ralph Sampson. “There’s only two or three athletes in the NBA who can make that play,” the announcer says, “and Clyde Drexler is one of them.” Mmm-hmm.
#4: While playing for the Rockets (something I usually try to block from my mind), a now severely balding Drexler, once of the sweet Afro, takes a last-second fast break pass on the right wing and stuffs over the hometown Spurs. I do appreciate that there's a 9-to-1 ratio of Blazer/Rocket dunks in this list. Thank you, NBA-TV.
#3: Also against the Spurs but thankfully black in a Blazer uniform, in the blink of an eye, Drexler takes a pass from Jerome Kersey at the top of the key and delivers a thundering slam over The Admiral. “In your face David Robinson!” the announcer says.
#2: This one is particularly satisfying because of the context. In the 1992 NBA Finals against Michael Jordan’s mighty Chicago Bulls, Drexler dunks so hard over Bill Cartwright that the ball bounces off the aging center’s head. Marv Albert of NBC describes it with his signature phrase for such occasions: “Serving up a facial!”
#1: I get chills watching this one from the sheer physical artistry. It also doesn’t hurt that Clyde’s ducking in The Forum against the dreaded Los Angeles Lakers, and in the red away uniforms that I prefer. But really this one is all about the fact that Drexler takes off from the corner of the free-throw line and sails to the basket, his feet tucked under as if it’s part of some Olympic high dive. This judge gives it a 10.