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June 15, 2014

Indiana All-Stars reunion has strong Anderson flavor

INDIANAPOLIS — The remembrances of yesteryear were too opaque to brush away. With every footstep Roy Taylor took onto the court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday night, his mind blissfully time warped.

The games. The players. Anderson High School. The Wigwam.

Every detail in crisp, vivid detail replayed as Taylor humbly stood before a crowd of 6,520 during a special Indiana All-Stars “Reunion” recognition — at the very game he highlighted 40 years ago.

“It brought back a lot of memories, good memories,” Taylor said after he was honored at halftime of the 133rd Kentucky-Indiana boys’ All-Star game. “I thought about my teammates, people I played against, Walter Jordan (a fellow 1974 all-star from Fort Wayne Northrop) for one. What a truly nice experience. It means a lot.”

In the city of Anderson, high school basketball, specifically its rich tradition, toeholds its own place in antiquity. Identified by its once grand and celebrated hoops venue, the Wigwam, the names are what continue to outlast both bricks and mortar in longevity.

Taylor, one of the city’s immortal quintet, remains a pivotal underpin.

Named Mr. Basketball in 1974, Taylor was the second player from Anderson to receive the coveted distinction after Anderson High School’s Johnny Wilson in 1946. Ray Tolbert of Madison Heights won the award in 1977 before Anderson’s Troy Lewis in 1984 and Maurice “Kojak” Fuller in 1993.

Taylor, however, received a bonus as he claimed the state’s top honor. Though sharing the award with Steve Collier of Southwestern (Hanover), he surpassed Indiana basketball legend Larry Bird of Spring Valley, who joined Taylor as an Indiana All-Star in 1974.

“I wonder why he’s not here,” Taylor joked. “Really, I wanted to talk to him. He did write a book and put me in it. He said that was one thing he didn’t get.”

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