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Sports B1 SUNDAY, JULY 14, 2019

Halep defeats Serena in Wimbledon final. B3

After becoming ill on May 25, Jim Tra-

ber underwent brain surgery. Less than
a month later, he resumed work on his
radio show. BILL HAISTEN/Tulsa World

back to
DMOND — Not long
after Jim Traber under-
went a four-hour brain
surgery on May 29, he
was starving.
“I hadn’t eaten in five days,”
he recalls. His wife, Julie,
responded with a sausage, egg
and cheese
Metro Christian quarterback Asher Link, a passing and rushing threat, rolls out of the pocket during spring practice in May. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
devoured it. A
healthy appetite
was a positive
2019 Another
Haisten irascible Traber
Sports is on the road
columnist to recovery and
normalcy: He

bill.haisten ended a recent
exchange with
an Oklahoma
City Sports Animal caller by
calling the guy a “fool” and a
“stupid sissy.”
Traber’s most famous insult

of callers is to refer to them as
Now, even as he has a fresh,
6-inch scar on the back of his

» See Haisten, page B5

Asher Link is latest Metro Christian QB to put up big stats

By Barry Lewis • TuLsa worLd In addition, Link is a run- commit. Rankings are based
ning threat. Last year, he had on past achievements, pro-

uring the past decade, Metro Christian 107 carries for 605 yards and jected 2019 performance and
quarterbacks have consistently pro- 12 TDs — he had a rushing TD college potential.
duced prolific passing numbers. in each of the last six games. Last year, Link’s signature
“He’s probably the most moment came in the second
In 2018, Asher Link became the fifth physically gifted QB I’ve ever round of the playoffs at third-
Metro passer in 10 years to throw for coached and we’ve had some ranked Jones. Link passed for
more than 3,000 yards in a season — great quarterbacks,” Metro 428 yards and four TDs, and
following Beau Marsaln, 2011 World coach Jared McCoy said. “He’s he capped the winning drive
metro player of the year Andrew our fastest time in the 100 with an 8-yard TD run with
and 200. 22 seconds left to give the Pa- Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young
Hearon (twice), Abe Anderson and “And he’s durable. He triots a 49-45 victory. coaches a participant during his youth
Dylan Bierman. would prefer to throw it, but “He’s done a really good basketball camp in Oklahoma City on
Link, who is 6-foot-1 and 197 with (2018 rushing leader) job of knowing when to tuck Saturday. NATE BILLINGS/The Oklahoman
Ryan (Johnson) being gone, it and run when it’s not a
pounds, completed 236-of-364 passes for 3,477 yards he’ll probably assume more designed play,” McCoy said.
and 33 touchdowns. His stats down the stretch were
especially impressive as he led the Patriots to the Class
2A semifinals. In his final five games, he connected on
of that workload, too.”
Link, who has been offered
by Air Force, is No. 2 in the
“He’s a throw-first type of kid,
but I don’t know if we win the
Jones game if he doesn’t run
122-of-180 passes for 1,851 yards and 15 TDs with only
two interceptions.
All-World preseason football
quarterback rankings, behind
Sapulpa’s Eli Williams, a TCU
it. He runs in untouched and

» See Link, page B7

to attack
Year 2 with
Why top recruit Raym picked OU After a rocky start to his
rookie season in the NBA,
the ex-Sooner feels settled
Strong pitches from Broken Ar-
row offensive
Georgia and Michigan tackle Andrew
By Eli Lederman
Raym (left)
didn’t shake Sooner blood blocks Owasso’s
Tulsa World
Haydon Grant
during a game OKLAHOMA CITY — Drib-
By Eli Lederman in Owasso on bling around young kids in a
Tulsa World Sept. 7. Raym, white hoodie and mint green
who had been basketball sneakers during his
Andrew Raym was on a the state’s top youth skills camp on Saturday,
boat, casting for catfish with uncommitted Trae Young looked calm, settled.
his younger brother and a few football recruit, The scene was a far cry from
friends just off the quiet family committed for a where the former Norman
farm near Lake second time to North and Oklahoma star guard
Eucha when the Oklahoma last stood this time last year, when
decision became week.  terms like “bust” and “over-
clear. rated” were being slung his way
The Broken BRETT ROJO/
for the Tulsa World,
with every turnover or missed
Arrow star and file shot as Young struggled through
No. 1 football re- the NBA Summer League as a
cruit in the state member of the Atlanta Hawks.
Raym of Oklahoma The look he wears now is one
for the class of of confidence, the sort of swag-
2020 finally was told his father outside the lebrity. people at home in Broken Ar- ger that comes with averaging
sure of where he would be play- farm’s barn, “I’m going to OU.” Less than 24 hours earlier, the row, in Norman and all over the 19.1 points per game for the
ing his college football, and he A few days later, with weights nation’s No. 55 recruit, accord- country ever since. Hawks and emerging as a final-
knew the person he wanted to clanging and music blasting, ing to ESPN, verbally commit- The dream, the one the ist for NBA Rookie of the Year.
tell first. As the boys reached the calm peace of Lake Eucha ted to play for the Sooners next Rayms wished upon for much And now with a full season
the shore, Raym sought out his felt worlds away in the sprawl- fall over Georgia and Michigan, of Andrew’s life, had been under his belt, the 20-year-old
father, Gerald. ing practice facility at Broken and his phone had been blow-
“Dad,” the four-star recruit Arrow, and Raym felt like a ce- ing up with texts and calls from » See Raym, page B7 » See Young, page B5

Haisten: ‘May 25 is a day we’ll remember forever,’ Traber says

» From page B1 in a tournament at the radio again. His June 24 been his biggest audience
Hard Rock. Julie also is comeback show coincided ever. During his April 15
head, Traber considers there. with the annual Bob Barry show, there was a 558%
himself the luckiest man “I don’t gamble,” she Jr. memorial golf event in increase above normal
in Oklahoma. explained. “I just find a Oklahoma City. As nearly in the number of listen-
During a period of place where I can read.” every participant listened ers who were connected
about 24 hours on May Traber is well-known on a smart phone, there online or by using the
25-26, he and Julie within Oklahoma’s tour- were echoes of Traber’s Animal app.
weren’t sure whether he nament-poker culture. show all over the golf
had sustained a stroke He’s an accomplished course. ‘Incredibly blessed’
or a heart attack — or player and seems to be During the first few
whether a cancer had an expert on the subject. days after the surgery, A father of three daugh-
spread to his brain, caus- While hospitalized before several friends delivered ters and two sons, Traber
ing him to have head- surgery, Traber received a homemade meals to the hails from the Pittsburgh
aches and, ultimately, to big-time flower arrange- Trabers. Involved in the area. His loyalty to the
collapse during a poker ment from the Hard Rock. meal chain, Jim says, was Pittsburgh Steelers is per-
tournament at the Win- For three weeks before Thunder general manager manent and intense.
Star World Casino and he became ill at the Sam Presti. As a college athlete,
Resort in Thackerville. WinStar, Traber had been Traber has a history of Traber was an Oklahoma
“May 25 is a day we’ll bothered by headaches. being critical of Presti — State quarterback and
remember forever,” Traber He said the discomfort and at one time suggested first baseman. For the
said during an interview centered on the back of that a Presti firing would Cowboys baseball pro-
in his Edmond home last his head. benefit the organization — gram in 1980-82, he had
week. “I knew he didn’t feel but the Thunder organiza- a career batting average
Looking and seeming good,” Julie said, “so on tion responded to Traber’s of .389. For the Baltimore
better than I expected, that Friday night, I told plight by sending “a Orioles in 1984-86 and
the 57-year-old Traber him, ‘Why don’t you just beautiful bunch of food,” 1988-89, he played in 264
resumed radio work only not go down there (on Traber said. games.
three weeks after his May 25)? You could stay “What a cool thing to On Sept. 30, 1988,
surgery. home and relax. You’ve do,” Traber said. “Only in against the Toronto Blue
As it turned out, there been pushing yourself too On May 29, Jim Traber underwent surgery for the removal of a Oklahoma.” Jays, he punched a two-
was not a stroke or a hard.’ ” benign brain tumor, leaving a 6-inch scar. COURTESY Said Julie: “Oklahoma out single in the ninth
heart attack or cancer. A Jim’s response was, “I’m people are the nicest in inning to end Dave Stieb’s
benign tumor caused his going. I’ll be fine.” “This probably was a us, ‘This is the best-case the world. It’s like living bid for a no-hitter.
seizure. On May 25, Julie did seizure,” Julie was told. scenario. It’s in the perfect in Pleasantville.” Traber is nicknamed
“This was going to not join Jim for the 140- “At least, she knew I location,’ ” Julie said. “I’m “The Ultimate.” Dur-
happen sooner or later, mile drive from Edmond wasn’t dead,” Traber said crying and hugging the Traber and Tiger Woods ing his first radio work
no matter where I was at to the WinStar casino. last week. “A lot of other doctor, and Jim wakes up during the ’90s, he was
the time,” Traber said. “I She decided to stay home. people got text messages and asks, ‘What’s going When Tiger Woods introduced each day as
just happened to be at the During that Saturday saying that I had died.” on?’ I told him, ‘You’re go- won the Masters in April, having “the ultimate
WinStar when it hap- afternoon, Jim had a nice Traber was transported ing to have brain surgery, Traber was on the losing sports mind.” Eventually,
pened.” run at the poker table. to an Ardmore hospital. but you’re not going to side of a bet— established “The Ultimate” became a
During a Texas hold ’em “I’m rolling,” he texted A brain scan revealed an die.’ ” in 2011 — that Woods nickname that stuck.
event, Traber remembers to his wife. extreme irregularity. Traber’s reaction: would not win another For the time being, Tra-
having blurred vision Around 6 p.m., as Julie The plan was for a “You’re fired up because major golf championship. ber does his shows from
from his right eye. He also dined on takeout food helicopter to take Traber I’ve got to have brain At $200 apiece, Traber the office of his home.
remembers a statement and was about to watch to Oklahoma City, but surgery?” had bets with Animal co- When he needs to be at a
from another man at his a movie, she got the first the state was rocked by Within a few seconds, workers Craig Humphreys remote location — like a
table: “You are having a call that her husband was violent weather during he again was sleeping. and Mark Rodgers. car dealership — he uses
seizure.” in trouble. the evening of May 25. There was a delicate Within Traber’s show Uber transport.
Moments later, Traber “I don’t know what’s The sky was too unstable surgery on May 29, but the intro for years was his Because he was a
was lying on the floor really happening,” a friend for helicopter flight, so it Trabers got the best pos- mention of the Tiger seizure patient, Traber
of the casino. Julie got a reported, “but Jim’s either was 4 a.m. before Traber sible result. Jim would live. bets: “This is the great- legally is banned from
terrible phone call from a had a stroke or a heart was checked into Mercy est wager ever made by driving until December at
friend. attack. They’re saying he’s Hospital in OKC. Traber and the Thunder any human being ever on the earliest. If there isn’t
Forty-seven days later, unresponsive.” For a few hours, Julie this planet or any other another seizure within
the Trabers were seated Julie remembers her says, the Trabers feared Traber for years has planet!” six months of the May 25
together on the sofa, reaction: “This can’t be that Jim had been expressed an opinion that For the Sports Ani- incident, he’ll be cleared
recounting and marveling happening.” stricken by a cancer that Russell Westbrook is inca- mal network of stations, to drive.
at what transpired during She wound up making had invaded his brain. pable of leading an NBA Traber has a statewide Traber is the veteran
the final week of May. the 140-mile trip after all. “Jim was unbelievably team to a championship. audience. He hosts “The of several major health
“I was told that (an calm,” Julie recalled. During the operation, Afternoon Sport Beat” for issues and surgeries, but,
‘I’ll be fine’ ambulance) was 45 “I was on some good the surgeon wore a pair two hours (2-4 p.m.) and he says, this most recent
minutes away,” Julie said. drugs,” Jim explained. of Westbrook’s signature then collaborates with Al episode set the bar much
When Traber is involved “I thought, ‘If he’s had a “It was as a surreal deal. basketball shoes. Eschbach from 4-6. higher for having been so
a poker tournament at stroke or a heart attack, That night, everything “They put my head in As Woods held on for unsettling.
WinStar, at the giant he’s not going to make it.’ changed.” a vise. I couldn’t move,” his fifth Masters victory, “I can’t believe how
Choctaw Casino near I was pretty emotional. I That night, a special- Traber said. “I had 24 “Jim Traber” was a trend- incredibly blessed I’ve
Durant or at the Hard asked a friend in Norman ist determined that Jim’s staples in my head. It was ing topic on Twitter. been,” Traber said at the
Rock Hotel and Casino in to meet me and drive me issue was a meningioma serious.” The next day, Traber conclusion of our inter-
Catoosa, Julie typically is to WinStar.” brain tumor. A benign Two days later, he was paid Humphreys and view, after which he began
with him. This weekend, About an hour later, tumor. released to go home. Rodgers. Traber also at- to prepare for four more
in fact, Traber is involved there was another call. “(The specialist) told Three weeks later, he did tracted what might have hours of live sports talk.

Young: It took until the All-Star break to feel comfortable, he says

» From page B1 month, Young admitted it ferent test. That was the Atlanta Hawks
has been interesting and major adjustment for me.” guard Trae Young,
a standout at Nor-
said he feels ready for his enlightening to watch up His slow acclimation to
man North and
sophomore season in the close. the NBA robbed Young of Oklahoma, said
league. And when the discus- the confidence that had during his youth
“I’ve gained a lot of con- sion finally turned to his made him a star in college basketball camp
fidence,” Young said. “For debut season and the next and thrust him onto the at the Santa Fe
me going into Year 2, I can one that lies ahead start- national stage a year ear- Family Life Center
now come out with the ing in October, the No. 5 lier at OU. In fact, it took in Oklahoma City
same confidence I had at overall pick in 2018 dove until the All-Star break on Saturday that
the end of last year. Hav- into his initially rocky in February for him to fi- “Every single night
ing that from the start will rookie year and expressed nally hit his stride, he said. (in the NBA) is a
be great this season.” optimism about what lies From there, Young caught different test.” 
Fresh off his first year in ahead. fire.
the NBA, Young returned This summer, Young is Over the final two and NATE BILLINGS/The
home to host his annual experiencing his first NBA a half months of the sea-
youth camp at the Santa offseason and settling into son, Young was a menace
Fe Family Life Center. The a season preparation un- for Atlanta and carried the
camp, which continues like any he has had before. Hawks with 24.7 points
Sunday, was open to boys Solidified in his role but and 9.2 assists per game,
and girls in grades 1-12 no longer saddled with flashing the kind of skill
who each received coach- events like the Summer and talent that made him
ing instruction along with League or the expectations a top-five draft pick.
an opportunity to meet and pressures of a rookie Nothing, Young said,
Young and bring home season, he has been able to really changed over that
an autographed souvenir step back and simply work span, only that he finally
from the two-time Okla- on his game. felt comfortable and set-
homa Gatorade Player of Even after overcom- tled into his role on the
the Year. ing his underwhelming Hawks and in the league.
During his meeting with performance in the Las Looking back, Young
the media, Young was Vegas Summer League said he wishes he could
asked about a number of a year ago, where he fa- tell his rookie self one
the topics swirling around mously opened his career thing: Be who you are.
the NBA this summer. with consecutive air balls, For a brief time last fall,
On the Thunder’s trade Young struggled during he got lost in trying to fit
of Russell Westbrook, the early months of the in and that’s where his
Young, who attended 2018-19 NBA season. struggles began.
games at Chesapeake En- There were growing Nothing Young can do
ergy Arena since the team pains, he admits, that now can change what hap-
arrived in 2008, said it was came with adjusting to pened then, but as Year 2
tough to see the fiery point life in the NBA. Not only appears on the horizon,
guard go. was he forced to grapple that same advice is on his
“I remember going and with the very real chal- mind. He’s not going to let
seeing Russ play,” Young lenge of facing the tough- himself forget it this time,
said. “I’ve had season est point guards in the and now, he’s ready for
tickets here since he was league night to night, he what comes next.
a rookie. It’s crazy seeing also had to learn to han- “It’s going to be a fun
him go. I know people in dle aspects of pro life like year,” he said. “And I can’t
Oklahoma will welcome travel and publicity. All of wait to get it going.”
him back whenever he it required some time to
comes back with the Rock- settle in. Eli Lederman
ets because of everything “There’s no nights off,” 918-581-8386
he’s done for this city.” Young said. “You’re going Eli.Lederman
On the wild summer up against a different type
transactions that have of point guard every night. Twitter:
swept the league this Every single night is a dif- @ByEliLederman