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MLB WORLD SERIES: NATIONALS VS ASTROS


October 29, 2019


Clyde Drexler

Hakeem Olajuwon


Washington, D.C.

Q. Clyde, are you certain Hakeem can get the ball to you?
CLYDE DREXLER: That's yet to be determined. I don't know if he played much baseball. We're going to find out just how much.

But he's such a great athlete, I don't think he'll have a problem.

Q. What is it like for you to be out here for the Astros in such a big game and just the excitement of everything going on tonight?
CLYDE DREXLER: Obviously Jim Crane, the Astros organization, they're a class act. The city is proud of them.

Growing up in the city of Houston, I've been an Astros fan since the age of 2. I went to many games as a youngster. I used to go to every game in the 50 cent seats with my glove, and eventually caught a couple of home runs from some notable Hall of Famers. So I go way back with the Houston Astros.

To be in this position, this team, this organization, it's truly an honor. It's a privilege. And we're all proud of the job that they've done. And hopefully they can close out the series tonight.

Q. The Astros went down 0-2, now they're up 3-2. Does this remind you of anything remotely close to the '94-'95 Phoenix Suns series?
CLYDE DREXLER: It is completely close. These guys have the heart of a champion. They never quit. No matter what odds they're up against, they stick together. And that glue is the thing that keeps you in the series, that keeps you playing hard, and eventually helps you to win championships. This team has it. They had it in 2017, and hopefully they'll have it tonight.

Q. Obviously the question, Dream, to you is, can you throw a baseball?
HAKEEM OLAJUWON: Well, we'll find out (laughter). Can he catch? (Laughter.)

CLYDE DREXLER: Hey, I did play high school baseball.

HAKEEM OLAJUWON: You did? I'm in trouble, then.

Q. Hakeem, what are some of your favorite Astros memories from the time you've been in Houston?
HAKEEM OLAJUWON: Again, the championship. Been there so many times so close, and to finally have won a championship was very special, yeah.

Q. I remember you saying you were an Astros buddy. So you've been a long-time Astros fan. Did you take Hakeem to any Astros games or did he come on his own or have you gone together? I see Harden and Westbrook at games now. Did you ever do that together? And Hakeem, another question to you is, how does this remind you of championship teams that you've been a part of?
HAKEEM OLAJUWON: Well, very, very similar. Losing the first two games at home and people kind of lost hope. And to come back with this for a victory, it reminds me of 1994, our championship against Phoenix, where we lost the first two games at home and we came back, won two games, and tied the series.

Very similar, but they took it to another level by winning three games.

Q. Did you ever have a chance to indoctrinate him with baseball?
CLYDE DREXLER: We tried. We tried. Because I love baseball. I go way back, guys, to when they had Joe Morgan, C├ęsar Cede├▒o, Doug Rader, Roger Metzger, all those guys, JR Wilson. Those guys were phenomenal players.

And then you go to the Ryan Express, and Scott, all the way to the Killer B's and to the current day with these guys. They have had some incredible players in this organization through the years. I've enjoyed it all.

But now that these guys are winning, and not only are they winning, they've been very impressive in terms of character, the way they do it. I think Jim Crane runs just an incredible organization. They deserve all the credit. So I want to tell you how big a fan I've been for so many years.

But Hakeem, I don't recall us going to any games. When we were in college we wanted to. I think there just wasn't a lot of time.

HAKEEM OLAJUWON: He only introduced me to the upper part of ice cream, not baseball.

CLYDE DREXLER: Guy Lewis had us working hard, trust me. There wasn't a lot of extra time.

Q. Back to earlier you said you caught some home runs from some notable people. Do you remember who those people were?
CLYDE DREXLER: Absolutely. Willie Stargell. Willie Mays, believe it or not. Not Barry, but his dad, Bobby Bonds. And Harmon Killebrew. I was always in the center field seats, eventually somebody is going to hit one. The little scoreboard would go nuts, you guys remember that. Those were the days. Those were some good days. I lived about ten minutes from the Astrodome so I could ride my bike with my buddies to every game. I didn't miss very many.

Q. You know Jim Crane very well. When he bought the team there were questions about how he would run it and what he would deliver. And you said, He'll make a champion. I know you are not at all surprised. Can you talk about what he's done?
CLYDE DREXLER: Jim Crane is a winner. Everybody that knows Jim loves him because he's a great guy. First of all he has impeccable character. He hires the best people. And he's the most competitive guy I know. If you've played golf with him or anything, you know Jim Crane is a winner. The we're proud, the city, the state.

The job that he's done as the governor of the Astros has been incredible. Remember when he took over the team he had some challenges to overcome. And the way that they've built this team up from the farm system all the way through has been nothing short of genius.

Q. What's more pressure, winning the championship or throwing a strike in front of millions of people tonight?
HAKEEM OLAJUWON: I think -- I feel the pressure right now (laughter). It's going to be the other two teams maybe they say, You could have been a baseball player? Oh, you chose the right sport.

Q. Can you talk us through the satisfaction that it brings a professional player, especially someone who calls Houston home, to bring a championship? Can you tell us how these guys must be feeling right now so close to a second World Series in three years?
CLYDE DREXLER: I'll start, Athlete, and you can finish. From an athlete's perspective the pressure that these guys come through in, they're some of the best players I've ever seen under pressure. And as a team no one does it better than the Astros. You never know who is going to show up but one thing you know that someone is going to show up. And when they do it's always surprising. But it's really not surprising if you've been watching how they perform day in and day out.

And so it's been a thing of beauty as an Astros fan for many, many years, you can hold your head up proud wherever you go. And it's been -- I guess these are the best of times because 2017 was the last championship here in the city of Houston since, what, '95 Rockets, so to bring another one would be phenomenal.

And if they should win it this year, and I don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but this team is built to compete for a championship at least the next five or six years.

HAKEEM OLAJUWON: You can see the disappointment last week. And just to see that turn around, and to be in this position to close it. You can imagine the players, that was pressure. But an ideal situation to do it at home.

Q. Many of us in this room have watched you guys together at U of H, together with the Rockets. How cool is it to be in front of Houston again, both you guys, together?
CLYDE DREXLER: As old men, to be here on the podium, I may be a little bit older. I don't know -- it's a tremendous privilege and a pleasure. To say that we love the City of Houston, whenever teams are doing well, especially our Astros, we like to be able to participate in this to be able to do that. We appreciate everything the Astros have asked us to do. We are excited to do it and we hope we don't mess it up.

HAKEEM OLAJUWON: With Clyde and for the rest of Houston, our career times together, he went to Portland, he came back, we won a championship together. And now Hall of Famer. Now we do this together again. I feel so privileged. I know it's been an honor to know Clyde. We are very, very, very close friends.

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