NORMAN — Going into Friday night's Wayman Tisdale Scholarship Fund Dinner, Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger didn't expect to see Blake Griffin on the floor Saturday.
But the NBA All-Star couldn't stay off the court, playing much of the first half of Saturday's Legends Alumni Game in front of approximately 3,500 fans at Lloyd Noble Center.
“Coach Kruger's doing an amazing job when it comes to really getting the tradition back into the program and getting guys from past years to come back,” Griffin said. “I definitely wanted to come be a part of this.”
Griffin promised just before the game that he would stay safe during the game.
He did, though that didn't stop him from putting on a show.
Playing for much of the first half, Griffin had four dunks, including an alley-oop finish, and nailed a long 3-pointer to finish with 13 points.
Griffin mixed it up a bit with Sooners strength and conditioning coach Jozsef Szendrei, who played on the 2002 Final Four team.
“‘Yo-Yo' doesn't realize how strong he is still,” Griffin said. “I had to try to stay out of his way.”
Griffin had to leave at halftime but threw his shoes into the crowd, then spent several minutes signing autographs near the tunnel before leaving the arena.
Kruger found out Friday night that Griffin intended to play.
“I don't know that he planned on playing when he came,” Kruger said. “The more he was around the atmosphere and he saw the enthusiasm that everyone had as the weekend went on, I think he just wanted to play.”
Kruger said it was good for his players to see Griffin take part.
“Alvan Adams back in the mid-70s, the Wayman Tisdales, through the Harvey Grants and Terry Evans, our guys don't know them quite as well,” Kruger said. “Certainly everybody knows Blake. When he comes back and participates, everyone appreciates that.”
Sam Grooms, whose OU career ended with an NCAA Tournament appearance last season, enjoyed the opportunity to play on the same team as Griffin.
“He's one of the people I look up to,” Grooms said. “I listen to everything he has to say.”
Grooms is finishing his degree at OU this semester before pursuing a professional career.
The Cream team beat Griffin's Crimson team 102-99, with Ebi Ere earning MVP honors with 34 points and four assists.
Ere, who played on the Sooners' 2002 Final Four and 2003 Elite Eight teams, hit four 3-pointers.
Hollis Price scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, and Darryl “Choo” Kennedy added 13 for the Cream.
Eduardo Najera and Kelley Newton scored 20 each for the Crimson team.
The program's 2,000-point scorers and All-Americans were honored, including Adams and Stacey King.
Both Adams and King were in attendance, but neither played.
“Lon Kruger's doing a great job of reaching out to the student body, reaching out to the fans and he's getting fans back in here,” King said. “He's building a really, really good program.
“It's been a slow process, but people have to remember he didn't have a lot when they came in.”
The Sooners open their season Nov. 2 with an exhibition game against Washburn.