A fellow Bedger asked for a transcription of Benji and KP2's SuperBlazer™® Podcast. While that's very definitely more nitrogen-rich dirt than I wanna hump across the yard in a wheelbarrow (no, Ben, I did NOT just call your show guano!), I thought it might be a good thing to save Sir Benjamin's interview with Clyde the Glide Drexler for posterity.
Time to type.
Ben says that this was conducted in the wee hours after all the bars in Oregon had closed, which might explain any brief forays into the realm of incoherence.
Well, he didn't say it quite like that, but we all know that's what he means...
Clyde Drexler: Hey, Ben, how are you?
Ben Golliver: I'm doing well, how are you doing?
Clyde: I'm doing really well. I can't believe you're up this time in the morning.
Ben: Well, hey, you know I'll get up at any time to talk to you, you know that. Twenty-four hours a day. Well, I understand you're in Chicago this week, obviously, getting inducted into the United States Olympics Hall of Fame Presented by All State™®, that must be a huge honor for you.
Clyde: It's an honor to be here because all of the people involved have put in so much work to make this weekend so special. We were able to go on to win a gold medal, Dream Team I, which was the original and the best, you know — I'm not biased! (laughter)
Ben: Was that gold medal the single greatest accomplishment or the greatest honor that you earned in your basketball career, or was there anything else that compared to it?
Clyde: I just think it was another great honor. I had a lot of wonderful accomplishments in the game of basketball. Of course, to win a gold medal for your country — it doesn't get any better than that.
¡Hay más, compadre!
Ben: That team, like you said, was the original and sort of the first Dream Team. People look at that team as really being an instigator in improving the quality of play all across the world. Do people still come up to you and say, "Hey, I remember seeing you" — maybe when they were little kids or guys in their 20s now — and say, "I remember watching that team and that was the reason I really go into basketball"? What role do you see the original Dream Team as having played in developing basketball globally?
Clyde: I think it woke up the world and let them know how big a gap there was in the skill level in terms of basketball, [between] this country and basketball played in other places. There's been a lot of development because of that in the last 17 years in other countries to develop their programs of basketball. The youngsters are playing a lot more basketball than they did in the '90s. It's been a wonderful thing to see. That's evidenced by having more international players compete in the NBA. I think we have over 70, 80 players, international players, playing in our league today.
Ben: You know the 2008 Olympic team obviously got a real challenge, from Spain and really all through the entire process. Were you guys ever truly challenged on the '92 team? Were you ever concerned at all, or were you pretty confident entering every single game, "Hey, we've got this."
Clyde: Well, we were concerned that we wanted to come out and compete — not only did we want to compete, we wanted to beat them by a sizable margin and just play the way we're capable of. That was our concern, not to have any letdowns. That team was coached by Chuck Daly, Mike Krzyzewski, Lenny Wilkins, and P.J. Carlesmo, so we had some great coaches and we had guys that were leaders, All Stars, on the floor — so we pretty much knew what we had to do.
Ben: Was there a pretty high stress level though, even given all that? Did you really feel the pressure of the entire country on your back?
Clyde: Not at all — because we were having too much fun! (laughter) It was kind of like, we knew we were a lot better than most of the teams. It was just a question of going out and executing.
Ben: You know a lot of the guys that came back from Beijing, whether it was Lebron or Kobe, they said that time they spent together — maybe not even during the games but the time behind the scenes — was really a huge motivator for them coming into this past season. They really got up for the games against each other and they would see each other over the course of the year. Did you have a similar experience when you got back from your time in the Olympics, whether you saw Michael Jordan or whoever else it might have been? Was there a certain added importance to those games that next season?
Clyde: The thing is, back then there were some real rivalries, so we really didn't like guys on the other team. (laughter) Literally. When you wee on the court it was all business. It wasn't that friendly, because some of the guys, I mean you had some real serious battles with them. So when you're on the same team with these guys, it kind of changed things in how we viewed the game. And so it was a wonderful occurrence. Like some of the guys in the Eastern Conference, I had never been on their teams — like Larry Bird — even though you make the All Star team, you're going to be in the West, he's on the East. So you're never going to teammates. So that gave us an opportunity to be teammates and work for the same common goal. But when you saw them the next year — you're still trying to get 50 on them. (laughter) But at least it was a lot more fun because you had a personal relationship with them.
Ben: There are 4 Blazers currently in the [USA Basketball] development program, various stages — Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden, and Jerryd Bayless. Of those 4 guys, can you see any of them or a multiple of those guys eventually making an Olympic Team, a senior men's National Team?
Clyde: Every one of those guys can potentially make it. (laughter) Are you kidding me? Every one of those guys are immensely talented and are going to have long and fruitful NBA careers. All they've gotta do is stay healthy.
Ben: I'm assuming you did see Rudy's [silver] medal performance in Beijing. I was hoping to get your thoughts on that.
Clyde: Rudy played really well for Spain. You've got to give him a lot of credit, this is a guy who's come into the league, it's a new experience for him. He had a great rookie year and I think he's going to build on that and get a little bit more confidence and perhaps get a little bit more strength. He's gotta get in the weight room, but he's got a lot of talent. He's got a bright future.
Ben: The big move the Blazers made this summer was adding Andre Miller to the backcourt. I guess the big concern people have had here in Portland is how well will he play with Brandon? Can they both play [at the same time]? Supposedly they both need the ball in their hands. Is that a valid [concern]? Do you think it's really that impossible to have two guys who "need the ball" to play on the same team?
Clyde: The one thing you've gotta know is: there's two guys who may need the ball, but there's one guy who's gonna have it when it counts. (laughter) That'll be Brandon Roy! (laughter) I think Andre Miller is a seasoned veteran. A great acquisition. I think that he understands that he's just coming in to help facilitate — he's not trying to run the show. He's going to give Brandon Roy all of the chances he needs to lead that team.
Ben: One other topic we've been debating around Portland in the past week or so in light of Brandon's contract extension: Are there elements he could potentially add to his game? Some people have talked about maybe him improving his defensive intensity, adding a transition game, Brandon even said he'd like to improve his midrange game. When you look at Brandon's game, what aspects of his game do you think need the most improvement? Obviously, he's a complete player, but where do you see room for improvement in Brandon's game?
Clyde: First of all, Brandon's already pretty polished. He's darned good. He's a hard worker. Even though he's that good I think that every year you have to continue to work on a different facet of your game to improve it. I never stopped trying to improve — after 15 years of playing I was still trying to think of something I could do better throughout the course of the year. That's a continuing evolution, you can never stop improving, and Brandon is smart enough to understand that. That's the reason that he's as good as he is right now. He knows that he needs to perform at a very high level. The only way to do that is to keep improving your skills. You've got to give him a lot of credit.
Ben: What were some of the things that you added to your game in the second half of your career?
Clyde: ...You watch what other players do well and you try to emulate or incorporate that into your game. It makes you a better player when you're around better competition. If you pay attention, you can learn something. (laughter)
Ben: Looking forward to next season, I think people still see the Lakers as probably the favorites in the Western Conference. Who else do you think is going to give them a real run for their money?
Clyde: Obviously the Blazers are first and foremost on my list. I think the Rockets, with the injury to Yao MIng, they're going to be good, but they're not going to be — unless some of the younger players really step up — they may not be one of the top 3 teams in the West. Some of the other teams that are going to be back: San Antonio, if Duncan stays healthy, could compete for the titlle. Other than that, that's my top 3. Dallas I don't think got any better. New Orleans, it depends on the chemistry with the new Center — they could be there, Chris Paul is special. That's about it. I don't see any other teams doing much with the Lakers.
Ben: Well, I pretty much agree with your analysis, spot on, as always. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. Congratulations on the honor and good luck today.
Clyde: We're going to have a great time in Chicago. One of the reasons this event is so special is because All State kind of resurrected the USOC's Hall of Fame initiatives [?], and so this is a culmination of all the hard work that they put in to make this a special weekend. And since Chicago is trying to host the 2016 Summer Games — what a great city to have an induction ceremony in.
Ben: Absolutely. Is the entire team back?
Clyde: Most of the team is back, now, not all of them! (laughter) Do you remember the guys on that team?
Ben: Pretty much all of them. The one name that always surprised people was Christian Laettner. Obviously Jordan, Magic, Larry, and the list goes on.
Clyde: Malone, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Scotty, Chris Mullen, Stockton... Pretty good team.
Ben: If you guys played the 2008 team in a series of 7, how long would it take you to beat them?
Clyde: Uh, 4. (laughter) Well, let's give them a little credit — maybe 5. (laughter)
Ben: Could anybody give you more than a 5 game series? Any team that you've seen?
Clyde: The '96 team was pretty good. That team included Shaq and Olajuwon. (laughter) They were pretty good!
Ben: So you guys first, then '96, then 2008?
Clyde: (thinking) Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh........... Yeah, that's about right. That would be the pecking order, I believe.
Ben: Well, as long as you guys are always on top, right? (laughter)
Clyde: I'm not biased at all! (laughter)
Ben: All right. Well, good luck, congratulations again, and best of luck this weekend.
Clyde: Thank you. It should be a magnificent weekend, it's a wonderful honor, and I'm delighted to be here.