NOVEMBER 20, 1985
These days Mark Price sounds more like Donald Trump than a former All-America guard at Georgia Tech and four-time NBA All-Star. A partner in a real estate investment group, he's immersed in a world of zoning laws and escrow accounts, with a large-scale project under way in greater Atlanta, where he's lived since arriving at Tech, in 1982. "This area is really growing, and my partners and I are trying to be a part of that," says Price, who in '98 retired as the NBA's career leader in free throw percentage (90.4).
He is still active on a court, but now his game is tennis. "I have a little quickness left," says Price, who's a regular player, with his wife, Laura, in an Atlanta adult league. "Competing against other neighborhoods is a big part of our life."
After his playing career ended, Price kept his hand in basketball by coaching at the high school and college levels. In 1998-99 he filled in for a family friend, Duluth (Ga.) High coach Joe Marelle, who was recovering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The following two seasons Price was an assistant at Georgia Tech, and then he became coach at Whitfield Academy in Atlanta. After leading the small Christian high school to a 27-5 record and the final eight of the state Class A tournament, Price left coaching for the challenge of starting a real estate business. "If the right opportunity came along in the NBA, I'd jump at it," he says of possibly returning to coaching in the future. "I enjoy helping young players develop the fundamentals of shooting and passing."
Price learned those fundamentals from his father, Denny, an NBA and college coach with three sons who became players: Mark, 39; Matt, 37, who was a guard at Appalachian State; and Brent, 34, who played guard at South Carolina and Oklahoma and spent 10 years in the NBA. Denny died of a heart attack in 2000 while playing a pickup game with Mark and Brent. A native of Enid, Okla., Mark was the high school player of the year in Oklahoma his senior year. At Tech, the 6-foot, 160-pound point guard emerged as a player and coach wrapped into one.
Price was a second-round pick in the 1986 NBA draft, by the Dallas Mavericks, who immediately traded his rights to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He spent nine years in Cleveland and then one season each with Washington, Golden State and Orlando and finished with 10,989 points, a 15.2 scoring average and 6.7 assists per game.
Throughout his career Price was respected as much for his Christian principles as for his play at the point. In 722 career NBA games he was ejected only twice. As Michael Jordan said after Price was sent to the locker room for protesting an offensive foul in a 1990 loss to the Chicago Bulls, "Mark doesn't use curse words."
That's still the case, says Price, the father of four (Brittany, 13, Caroline, 10, Hudson, 9, and Josh, 4). "I take my position as a role model for kids seriously?' he says, "and I've always tried to live a life that would honor God."