NBA.com Blog: Clyde Drexler
Posted Apr 16 2007 5:41PM
Posted by Clyde Drexler on April 16, 2007, 5:42 p.m. ET
Boy, did the judges let us have it last week. I thought that our routines the last few weeks were our best routines. From start to finish I thought everything was technically correct, no errors, no flaws, but they thought otherwise. I guess you have to have thick skin on this show. The judges have done their best to provide constructive criticism, which Elena and I have taken to heart and worked with to try and improve each week. But they also have to remember that unlike American Idol where the contestants are aspiring to be professional singers, the celebrities aren’t competing with the hopes of being professional dancers. We were invited to be on the show. We’re all trying our best, but we also want to have some fun too. I can’t be Fred Astaire or Sammy Davis Jr., but that doesn’t mean that I am not putting forth the effort.
Hopefully our rhumba will be able to win them over this week. The rhumba is a slow, sensual dance and to me, of our dances so far – the waltz, the jive and the quickstep – this is definitely the hardest. At this point, I am just letting it flow. By now I am a veteran of dancing (wink, wink) and so I know the routine, I know what I need to do to prepare, and it’s just a question of committing the necessary amount of time. That is the big challenge, having to learn a new dance each and every week. And should I continue to advance, I am going to have to learn two dances a week. I can’t even imagine that.
This past week was tough in terms of time because I had a commitment to a company called the Athletic Company that I endorse products for in China. I had to fly over there to shoot some commercials and do some photo and print work. They did a tremendous job of condensing everything into a three day period so that I could be back for the show. I was even getting words of encouragement from people in China, stuff like, “Keep up the good work,” and probably the most common being “Just smile.”
As soon as I got back, which was last night, I was right back in the studio dancing with Elena. Then we got in some more practice time this morning in preparation for tonight. So things have just been busy, busy, busy, really a non-stop grind. We’ll be ready when the lights go on tonight. I can only hope the judges are a little kinder this week.
Posted by Clyde Drexler on April 5, 2007, 7:42 p.m. ET
And the music plays on. Elena and I are going to be testing our skills at the waltz on the next show. We normally find out what our next dance will be immediately following the results show, which gives us about five days – not factoring in travel – to get prepared. This will be the first slow dance that we’ve had in the four weeks since I’ve been competing. Hopefully we’ll be able to slow things down, present a little bit more and straighten up the posture. All the other dances have been so fast that the practices have been like sprints. But the waltz is a great change because it’s an elegant dance. I actually really like it. I am starting to lean towards the more standard dances as my favorites.
Anyone who has been watching knows there is certainly room for improvement, especially from my perspective. But I do believe we are doing pretty solid. The degree of difficulty has been pretty high all three weeks. And I continue to be impressed by my partner Elena, who is making me look like I know what I am doing, or at least look better than I should.
It also helps that every other contestant has been so much fun. I honestly would be doing each of them a disservice to single one or the other out for what great people they are. Rarely are you on a show where you like everything that is going on and this is one of those shows.
As I have continued on each week, I have been getting a lot of funny messages from the guys I played with or against. Believe it or not, the comments are getting better and better, from “You’re nuts for doing it,” to “Hey, you’re not doing too bad.” With so many people rooting for me, I can’t help but try to keep improving.
Posted by Clyde Drexler on March 28, 2007, 11:06 a.m. ET
Elena and I found out Tuesday night that we get to dance for at least another week so a big thank you to everyone who voted for us. We’re already practicing our routine for week three.
I thought Elena and I gave a pretty good performance on Monday night. I was much more comfortable with the audience, especially compared to week one. Even the whole day with the hurray up and wait schedule that we have, I felt calm and relaxed all the way leading up to showtime.
I think our chemistry is also improving each week between me and Elena. I think the audience is starting to see that. Elena is one of the best teachers in the country. The fact that she has me looking like a ballroom dancer is amazing. If she can teach me, she can teach anyone.
What’s been cool about this entire experience is hearing from fans, family and guys that I’ve played with, calling me, e-mailing me or texting me and showing their support. Stuff like, “You’re getting better. You’re getting better. Keep it going.”
We’re keeping hope alive.
Posted by Clyde Drexler on March 20, 2007, 2:10 a.m. ET
How was my first Dancing With the Stars experience? It was great. I had a lot of fun but wish Elena and I had scored higher that's all. And in order to do that, you have to dance better. It wasn't the best performance for me because I was so focused in making sure of not making a mistake with my footwork. That stuff is hard because that is not your discipline, it's a different discipline, it's something you train for and you need time to perfect. Elena and I were very proud of the fact we didn't have a mistake in the routine, which you obviously don't want to do. It could have been better, especially from a technical standpoint, but I was so focused on not making a mistake with the footwork, I did the best I could do.
The entire day was pretty challenging. We arrived at the ABC studios at 9 a.m. and were there all day up until show time. Similar to a game, you want to show up, get some warm ups in and then go to work. It was especially difficult to wait and then be one of the last contestants to perform. That wasn't any fun for me, trust me. I wanted to get going with our routine.
I was very impressed with all of the other contestants and applaud them for having the guts to get out there and perform. I thought Joey Fatone, Laila Ali and Leeza Gibbons were especially impressive.
Where do Elena and I go from here? Well, we're focusing on doing a nice clean routine for next week and hopefully we'll score better and stick around. Otherwise, it's vacation time. But it's up to the judges and you, the fans, to vote, so please do so! (www.abc.com). I am very relieved to get this one behind me but also very confident heading into next week. See you then.
Posted by Clyde Drexler on March 15, 2007, 9:10 p.m. ET
It’s crunch time. Two minutes left in the fourth quarter. The time when the men are separated from the boys. In basketball you put all the hard work in in the gym so that you are in a position to succeed when the game is on the line. That is where we’re at now with the premier of Dancing With The Stars rapidly approaching on Monday. Elena and I will be going through our last few workouts this weekend before the bright lights of L.A. are on us and the TV cameras start rolling. Guys around the league have been razzing me a bit, calling me Twinkle Toes and stuff but they’re all looking forward to seeing me on the show. Hopefully the first routine goes as planned.
I’m going to have my whole family in the audience on Monday. My daughters are excited for me and can’t wait. My sons, on the other hand, let’s just say they aren’t too excited. Specifically they’ve said, “Dad, why are you doing this?” Once the lights go on, though, they’ll get to see how much fun I am having. And if I somehow I'm lucky enough to win it like Emmitt Smith did, who by the way couldn’t say enough good things about the show when I talked to him before I committed to this whole thing, then they will think it is even cooler.
Am I nervous? Well, I've succeeded and failed in the spotlight before, as I am sure those who followed my career in Portland and Houston could easily tell you. Once you’ve done that, nothing fazes you. As I have said all along, the thing I am most concerned about is doing a good job for Elena, who deserves to be in the winners circle in from of a national television audience. Here we go.
Posted by Clyde Drexler on March 11, 2007, 8 p.m. ET
From when I started this whole thing about two weeks ago, I know I have made a big improvement. The thing is, you start off having two left feet and then you start to become familiar with the steps. From there you can get into your routine. Then from your routine, you start working on your form and your balance. That’s where I’m at right now.
Elena, my partner and teacher, has been very patient and I think we have really awesome chemistry, which is so important. I am lucky to have her. She is great for me because she breaks it down and we go through everything real slow. Unfortunately, even when you go through it slow and do all the little stuff right, when the music comes on, it’s a whole different animal. But if I ever have questions, I can call her at any time and she gives me answers that I can understand.
So far this adventure hasn’t interrupted my schedule at all. Of course I am dancing a whole lot more than I ever did, but our two-hour plus daily sessions just take the place of my normal workout in the morning. Sometimes I even go to work out afterwards as well. It is not a big inconvenience.
With about a week left until the first show, the goal now is to continue to work on remembering the routine, which is always a challenge because it’s so unnatural. Once that is down, we’ll have to refine the routine and get more in sync with each other. Since this isn’t something I do a lot, I will probably have some butterflies on March 19. Luckily I am pretty easy going, so I’ll take it as it comes and try to do the best that I can.
Posted by Clyde Drexler on February 28, 2007, 4 p.m. ET
Well, after a couple of workouts, it is starting to sink in that I am really going to be competing on Dancing with the Stars. I have been able to meet all the participants - Billy Ray Cyrus, Joey Fatone, Laila Ali, Shandi Finnessey, Heather Mills, Leeza Gibbons, Apolo Anton Ohno, Paulina Porizkova, Ian Ziering and Vincent Pastore - who are truly celebrities in their respective professions. I am fans of all of them. Everyone has been so nice so far. We’ll see if that continues once the show gets started and the competitive juices start flowing. I definitely don’t want to get on Laila’s bad side.
I went into this thing thinking that ballroom dancing would be a lot of fun to learn, and it has been so far, but man, it is extremely difficult. The biggest surprise has definitely been the difficulty of the steps – stuff like the fan position, the box step. I’m learning them all. Whether I can apply them successfully is another thing altogether, but I couldn’t ask for a better teacher.
My partner, Elena Grinenko, is one of the top ballroom dancers in the world. We’ve practiced together for about five or six days, and you can just tell how good she is. In fact, she is so good, it is a little intimidating dancing with her. But she has a bubbly personality and makes it a lot of fun to learn.
Our practice time has been a little disjointed in terms of the location. We’ve practiced in Houston – both in my restaurant and in a real studio – and in Los Angeles, and we’re going to head to Las Vegas in a few days. Usually our workouts last anywhere from one to two hours. From here on out, we’ll pretty much be practicing every day until the first night of the show which is March 19. That gives me a little less than three weeks. I think I can do it.
Posted by Clyde Drexler on February 22, 2007, 9:00 p.m. ET
A lot of people have asked me, why would I want to be on Dancing With The Stars. Well, I’ll tell you what, it’s going to be a phenomenal show. I am looking forward to becoming a better ballroom dancer. We have about three weeks to hone our skills. My partner shows me the steps and hopefully I’ll be a good student. I’m usually a fast learner, but we’ll see. When I played in the NBA, they called me “The Glide,” so I am trying to see if those skills transfer into the dancing arena.
Jerry Rice made it fashionable. Emmitt Smith came after Jerry and really did a phenomenal job by winning the whole thing and I am going to try to keep it going just to let the country know that athletes really can dance. And of course I have to represent my fellow NBA players.
Don’t worry, I am still going to continue doing my job as the Rockets analyst, but the ballroom dance is a very, very exciting discipline to learn. You learn all of the great dances and to be able to learn it from professionals, well that appeals to me. I usually work out every day anyway, so there is no question that I will have the time to do it. Most people who want to learn how to ballroom dance have to take time out of their schedules to take classes. In my case, they’re sending professionals to teach me. It can’t get much better than that.
Still, I am nervous as hell. Hopefully with professionals showing me how to do it and professionals dancing with me, I’ll practice hard to the point where at least I look decent and respectable. My one goal is to not trip and fall on my face.
The way I see it, I played 15 years in the NBA. It doesn’t get any better than that, but it was time to live and do other things and just enjoy life. That is what I’m doing by competing on Dancing With The Stars. Wish me luck.