Upon learning that 44-year-old Wayman Tisdale had died this morning, my thoughts raced back almost 27 years to Convention Hall in Enid, Okla. That’s where I recall watching history being made in Oklahoma high school basketball:
On one side was Tisdale, then a high school basketball phenom playing for Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School who would go on to become a three-time All-American at the University of Oklahoma before leaving after his junior year to play for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.
On the other side was Mark Price, the future Georgia Tech Yellowjackets and Cleveland Cavaliers great who was the sparkplug shooting guard leading my alma mater, the Enid High School Plainsmen, in a battle for conference supremacy.
Though I would go on to watch scores of college and professional basketball games during my lifetime, the 1981 game played by then-high school seniors Tisdale and Price remains in my memory as perhaps the best one-on-one battle I’ve ever witnessed. The fact that my team won on its home court made the game only slightly sweeter due to the fact that it was just that good a match.
Though I didn’t know Tisdale personally and knew Price only by virtue of the fact that I sold a refrigerator to his parents several years later, I will always feel like I knew them both well — thanks, in part, to that game.
It appears as if I’m not the only person who will miss Tisdale’s ever-present smile. A visit to his web site, www.WaymanTisdale.com, revealed that the site was likely experiencing so much traffic that it was overwhelmed — as I was by Tisdale.
The Oklahoman web site has some coverage about Tisdale who, many don’t realize, went on to establish himself as a renowned jazz guitarist after retiring from the NBA. Three years ago, he was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
Click here to read a statement made by Price, who now calls the Atlanta area home, about Tisdale.