The mid-range jumper was so close to automatic that a Tulsa broadcaster would shout “Silk” anytime Steve Harris rose up for a shot. The nickname stuck with Tulsa coach Nolan Richardson, who said Harris, a former Blue Springs High School standout, possessed one of the most accurate shots he had ever seen.
Harris, a member of The Star’s 1981 All-Metro team, died Monday after a battle with colon cancer. He was 52.
“He was not only a quality basketball player, he did not have a mean bone in his body,” said Gil Hanlin, Harris’ coach at Blue Springs High School. “I used to joke with him, ‘Steve, if you weren’t such a nice guy, there’s no telling how good you could be.’ ”
Harris made his final public appearance on Feb. 12, when he surprised his son, Justin, by attending his senior night basketball game at Union (Okla.) High School.
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Harris played five NBA seasons — spending time with the Rockets, Warriors, Pistons and Clippers — after an All-American career at Tulsa.
The origins of that career sprouted at Blue Springs. In 1981, as a senior, he scored 40 points and grabbed 29 rebounds in a game. He broke the single-game scoring record that season with 54 points. After the season, in which Blue Springs reached the state quarterfinals, Harris won the DiRenna Award, reserved for the top basketball player in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
As a sophomore, he was teammates with fellow NBA guard Jon Sundvold.
“For a couple of years, in the offseason, we had two NBA guys in our gym,” Hanlin said. “I’ll tell you what — if Steve and Jon played a game of horse, it would last all day long.”