Wayman Tisdale always will be remembered as a bit player in one of the ugliest incidents in the history of Kansas University’s Allen Fieldhouse.
Tisdale, who died Friday at the age of 44, was among several Oklahoma University basketball players who cut down the nets in the KU arena following a victory over the Jayhawks.
KU fans who were there will never forget the temerity of the Sooners on that late February night in 1984 after OU had posted a 92-82 overtime victory and clinched at least a tie for the Big Eight regular-season title.
“They’re a great team,” first-year KU coach Larry Brown said. “I wish they acted like a great team. I’ve never seen a team cut down the nets on a visiting court.”
But the net snippage was just part of the Sooners’ shabby shtick.
With only eight seconds remaining in the OT and the Sooners leading, 92-80, OU coach Billy Tubbs called a timeout with the apparent purpose of rubbing the KU’s fans’ noses in it.
During that break, OU players and coaches waved at the crowd — some reportedly using the derisive middle-finger gesture — and a few of the fans responded by throwing ice and cups on the floor.
Mark Turgeon, now coach at Texas A&M; and then a KU freshman guard, summed up the Jayhawks’ feelings when he called the Sooners’ antics “ridiculous.”
The controversial Tubbs, meanwhile, offered no apologies for his and his players’ behavior, insinuating the KU fans deserved it for the way he had been treated while waiting to do a halftime interview on the regionally televised game.
“I got whomped up the side of the head five or six times,” Tubbs told the Daily Oklahoman newspaper. “I got spit on. I got water and Coke and I don’t know what all else thrown at me.”
Tubbs, who also complained about the poor Allen Fieldhouse security, ended his diatribe by saying: “Some of those people ought to have been hauled down to the county jail.”
Kansas officials were as furious about Tubbs’ security remarks as they were about the Sooners’ overtime and post-game deportment, stressing that six officers — three in plainclothes — were assigned to the visiting team.
A few days later, Oklahoma won the Big Eight title outright, and guard Tim McCalister said: “We know were the most hated team in the Big Eight.”
Few begged to differ, but the Sooners would receive a comeuppance, and soon. Following their hijinks at Kansas, Brown had said, “The world is round,” meaning that what goes around comes around.
Sure enough, less than three weeks later, KU and Oklahoma met again in the championship game of the Big Eight tournament at Kansas City’s Kemper Arena. Final score: Kansas 79, Oklahoma 78.
Then, four years later, Brown and the KU faithful enjoyed the ultimate atonement when the underdog Jayhawks shocked Tubbs’ Sooners, 83-79, in the NCAA championship game, also at Kemper Arena.