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Berry Tramel

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Mark Price: Oklahoma's greatest player turns 50

by Berry Tramel Modified: February 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm •  Published: February 14, 2014
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If you want to feel old, keep reading.

Mark Price turns 50 years old on Saturday. I know, it’s hard to believe. Doesn’t seem that long ago that Price was shooting Enid to the 1982 Class 5A state championship game. Or that long ago that Price helped Bobby Cremins put Georgia Tech basketball on the map. Or that long ago that Price made first-team all-NBA, 1993.

But yep, Price turns 50. He was born Feb. 15, 1964, in Bartlesville. His father had been a high school star at Norman and would become an OU assistant coach. His brothers would be Enid sharpshooters, too, and Brent Price would follow his brother into the NBA.

But other names are closely aligned with Mark Price. Alvan Adams and Wayman Tisdale. Those three and Marques Haynes are the greatest basketball players ever produced by the state of Oklahoma. We’re not talking about Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Not talking about Bob Kurland or Mookie Blaylock, college stars who came here from other ports.

When talking about guys who grew up in Oklahoma, those are the four. Price, Adams, Tisdale and Haynes.

Amazingly, two of those four were in the same high school class, 1982. Two years ago, I wrote about the great 1982 Class 5A State Tournament, which you can read here.

And of those four, I’ve always maintained that Price was the greatest. He proved it on the NBA level.

When Haynes got out of Langston in the ’40s, the NBA wasn’t much of an option. But Tisdale and Adams had stellar NBA careers.

Adams, out of OU and Putnam City, was the 1976 NBA Rookie of the Year. He played 13 NBA seasons, all with the Suns. He made the all-star team that season. Adams finished his pro career with 13,910 points and 6,937 rebounds.

Tisdale, out of OU and Tulsa Washington, was an epic college player. A three-year first-team all-American. And despite bouncing from franchise to franchise, Tisdale was a heck of a pro, too. Tisdale played 12 NBA seasons; he finished with 12,878 points and 5,117 rebounds.

But Price was the greatest pro of them all. Price played in four all-star games –1989, 1992, 1993, 1994. He was third-team all-NBA in ’89, ’92 and ’94. And in 1993, Price was first-team all-NBA. Which means he was one of the best players in the league.

Think about that.

In 1992-93, Price averaged 18.2 points and 8.0 assists per game. He made 48.4 percent of his shots, including 41.6 percent from 3-point range.

Price, now a Charlotte Bobcats assistant coach, played 13 seasons in the NBA. He finished with 10,989 points and 4,863 assists. Injuries hurt Price. He missed most of the 1990-91 season, when he was in his prime, and most of the 1995-96 season. But in those early 1990s, Price was a fabulous player.

The best ever from Oklahoma. Now, Blake Griffin could surpass Price. Probably will surpass Price, if his career trajectory continues. But it hasn’t happened just yet. For now, Mark Price remains the greatest basketball ever from the state of Oklahoma.

Happy 50th, Mark.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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