STILLWATER — David Page wanted to be mad about the bad news.
When his phone rang a couple years ago, his son Keiton was on the other end telling him that he was going to be late. Their family had somewhere to be that night, and they just had to leave on time.
The father was flustered.
But then, the son told him why he was running behind.
“I had an older gentleman approach me at the mall,” he explained. “Dad, this was a guy who played for Iba and recognized me, and he wanted to talk basketball.”
Keiton Page obliged.
He always does.
On an evening that Oklahoma State celebrated Senior Night, a 70-58 loss to Kansas was all but overshadowed by Keiton Page Appreciation Night. It was fitting that he was the only senior player. He deserved to stand alone.
He has been a Cowboy like no other. He has given everything possible for the Cowboy Nation, on the court and off it. He has been a leader. He has been a solid student, a stellar citizen and one heck of a player. He has been a role model.
His grit and tenacity and heart have made him one of the most popular players in OSU history.
Cowboy Nation is proud of Page.
Ditto for Pawnee and Yale and every other place in Oklahoma that he lived as a kid.
But no one feels more pride than his family.
“It's pretty amazing, the things he's done,” his dad said standing inside Gallagher-Iba Arena only a few minutes before the Cowboy faithful would cheer his son so loudly that it drowned out much of his Senior Night introduction.
“Very proud of him.”
Page's parents are both basketball people. David has coached high school ball all over the state and won six state championships. Karen played high school ball for her dad, a Hall of Fame coach. So, they recognize how special their son's career has been.
He broke yet another school record Monday night against Kansas. His second 3-pointer of the night, less than three minutes into the game, made him OSU's career record holder with 280 treys.
He passed Cowboy sharpshooters such as Randy Rutherford and Adrian Peterson and Obi Muonelo.
Page scored a game-high 29 points, finishing with seven 3-pointers.
“Everybody's game plan is to stop Keiton Page,” Cowboy coach Travis Ford said, “and to still score 29 points, that's hard to do.
“It borders on incredible that he keeps doing that.”
David and Karen Page know how significant the school records and the big games are. They are extremely proud of those accomplishments because they realize how storied the OSU tradition is.
But the records and milestones and accolades aren't the things that make them smile most.
Karen loves to talk about how her boy has always been a fighter, how he's had that spirit from the time he was born. She beams when she recalls how he's always had used that against the doubters.
He was the small-town kid who showed he belonged on the elite-level summer team.
He was the undersized guard who proved he could play big-time college basketball.
“He's worked so hard,” his mom said. “I just keep thinking he's gotta be so tired. It wears me out just watching him run around out there.”
No doubt he's worn out plenty of opponents.
“I'm glad he's a senior,” Jayhawk coach Bill Self joked.
But seriously, the former Cowboy has as much respect for Page as anyone living outside Payne County. He applauded along with the Gallagher-Iba throng when the Cowboys took Page out of the game with less than a minute left. He took extra time talking to Page as the teams shook hands at the end of the game.
“What a career,” Self said.
Page's hard-nosed style has made him a favorite among Cowboy fans.
And the way he's handled that stardom is what makes David beam.
Keiton will go scouting at high school games with his dad, who coaches at Pawnee, but he rarely gets to watch any of the game. People are always approaching him with requests, and Keiton never says no.
“The neatest thing for me as a parent is to see how Keiton handles all the people that approach him,” his dad said. “The pictures. The hugs. The kisses. The autographs. He spends as much time with whoever as he possibly can.
“Keiton, I don't think, has ever said no.”
That's why he had to call his dad with that bad news a couple years ago. He ended up being almost an hour late that day, but that is now one of his dad's favorite stories about his son.
“There's a lot of people that are proud of him,” David said, “but it can't go any deeper than family. We're tremendously proud.
“He's been great.”
Hard to stay mad at a guy like that.