Clyde Drexler ended a two-year stint as coach of the Houston basketball team Thursday, returning to private life after an all-star career as an NBA player.
Drexler said he made a difficult choice between basketball and parenting.
"It could not get any harder. You just can't do both," he said. "Because coaching is a challenge, it makes you want to come back. But if you do, you know you're going to be negligent in other areas.
"I don't want my kids to grow up and not have an active part in their upbringing, and that's what it comes down to," Drexler said.
Drexler acknowledged he has thought about leaving almost since he started coaching almost immediately after his retirement from the NBA.
"Because of the time that it takes in the coaching profession, in the first week I was thinking, `Boy, this is going to be a little bit more difficult than I thought'," Drexler said. "But in an effort to try to help out and get it back, I hung in there, stuck with it and did as well as I could."
Drexler came to Houston in 1998, hoping to take the school back to the basketball prominence it enjoyed in the early 1980s when Drexler was a member of the famed Phi Slama Jama teams that went to the Final Four three straight years. Drexler was a member of the first two of those teams.
In two seasons, Drexler's teams had records of 10-17 and 9-22.
Chet Gladchuk, Houston's athletic director, said he couldn't blame Drexler for leaving.
"He jump-started some things we asked him to do," Gladchuk said, crediting Drexler with bringing alumni back to the campus and improving recruiting.
"We were very competitive this past year," he added. "We've taken a giant step forward. We had a great recruiting class this year. What we've got to do now is capitalize on that and make sure it moves forward."
Gladchuk said it was too soon to comment on who might replace Drexler.
Houston loses five seniors, including point guard Gee Gervin.
Drexler leaves behind an outstanding recruiting class led by forward-center Alton Ford of Houston Milby. Ford was last season's Greater Houston high school player of the year and will give the Cougars a much-needed big man.
"All of the guys I recruited, I am going to strongly advise that they continue to be Cougars," Drexler said. "It was great for me and I would highly recommend it for any student-athlete."
Drexler played most of his 15-year pro career with Portland. He was traded to Houston in February 1995 and was instrumental that year in leading the Rockets to their second consecutive NBA title.
He ended his pro career after the 1998 season as one of three players in league history with 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists.
"He's been soul-searching snce the end of the season," Gladchuk said. "I thought it had stabilized. He said everybody asked how he was feeling about the job and it's been fine."
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