For the Friday Oklahoman, I wrote about the Taylor brothers, Zac and Press, both coaching in the NFL at relatively young ages. You can read that column here.
One thing I didn’t get into much was their athletic background. And here’s something I didn’t know. Press Taylor and Blake Griffin played AAU basketball together.
What’s so cool about that is that hoop experience was a second-generation meeting of the Taylors and the Griffins.
Way back in 1975, their dads had a memorable meeting on the basketball court. In the 1975 Class 3A basketball state championship game, Classen beat Ada 62-59 for the title.
Sherwood Taylor, father of Press and Zac, was a starter on that Ada team. He scored eight points in the title game.
Tommy Griffin, father of Blake and Taylor, was the 26-year-old coach of those Classen Comets.
That Classen team remains my favorite Oklahoma high school basketball team of all time. Almost 40 years later, I still recall their starting lineup. Fred Gordon was a burly, though not tall, was the post man. Joshua Shephard was a sweet-shooting wing. And the Murphy triplets – Harold, Ronald and Donald – were pesky guards who provided Classen with enough quickness to win state.
Griffin went on to a legendary career in Oklahoma – he won state titles at Classen again (1980), John Marshall (1996, 2000, the former was one of the best teams in Oklahoma history) and Oklahoma Christian (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007). Griffin was the first black coach in Oklahoma to win a state title at an integrated school.
He’s also been a 40-year class act. No-nonsense, but class act. Here’s a story I wrote on Tommy Griffin in 2001, back when Taylor and Blake were just kids who figured to be pretty good ballplayers by the time they got to high school.
In some ways, Oklahoma high school sports are like a small town. Everyone ends up knowing everyone, and everyone is connected in some way. Like Press Taylor, an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, and Blake Griffin, a superstar with the Los Angeles Clippers. And for more than just an AAU basketball team a few years back.