LINDEN, NJ — Linden High School retired legendary girls basketball star Tamecka Dixon’s jersey, No. 33, at an emotional ceremony in the school’s gym on Feb. 24.
A line of student athletes applauded as Dixon entered the gym where she had dominated opponents as a star for the Lady Tigers in the early 1990s. Dixon, class of 1993, was twice selected to First Team All-State, and her career total of 2,092 points remains a school record among both girls and boys. She went on to become a star on the professional level.
“Wherever I went and played around the world, I always made sure people knew I was from here,” Dixon said in remarks to the crowd of hundreds of family, friends, fans and students who packed the gym to honor her. “Coming back to this gym brings back amazing memories. I couldn’t do anything without the village I come from.”
Director of Athletics Steven Viana, who acted as master of ceremonies, praised Dixon for what she has meant to Linden Athletics.
“Tamecka, you and the No. 33 will eternally be part of the Linden family,” he said, after reading a long list of Dixon’s accomplishments in high school, as well as at the University of Kansas and in the WNBA.
Viana had joked from the podium that he couldn’t find the paper with Dixon’s stats and asked LHS senior basketball player Faith Reddick for help. Reddick then pulled out a sheet of paper that stretched about 20 feet from the podium, eliciting a round of laughter and applause from the crowd.
Dixon achieved state championships in 1991, 1992 and 1993; 28.1 points per game and 13.6 rebounds per game in her senior year; and a team record of 28–2 as a senior.
In college, Dixon was Big 8 Player of the Year in 1996 and Big 12 Player of the Year in 1997, and second team All-American in 1997. She averaged 20.6 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game at Kansas.
Dixon was selected as 14th overall in the first-ever WNBA draft by the Los Angeles Sparks in 1997 and went on to win two championships. She was also selected to three All-Star Games.
Dixon was also praised during the ceremony by Interim Superintendent Denise Cleary, Board of Education President Gregory R. Martucci and Linden Mayor Derek Armstead.
“As a school district, we are always proud of the accomplishments and successes of all of our students,” said Cleary. “But there are certain times when some stand out a little more than others. There is no doubt that Tamecka is our most accomplished student athlete, and the retirement of her jersey symbolizes the admiration, respect and pride that we have for her.”
Armstead said that he hoped the current LHS girls basketball team, which sat in front of the podium during the ceremony, would get a chance to see old footage of Dixon playing to see “basketball at its finest.”
“They say Linden means basketball,” he said. “Linden means basketball because of people like Tamecka Dixon.”
Martucci praised Dixon’s perseverance and determination.
“Your career is rooted right here in Linden, and your achievements are nationally renowned,” he said. “Thank you for modeling the way, not only for our young women, but for all of our athletes.”
Viana presented Dixon with a framed No. 33 jersey then directed her to uncover a sign honoring her that will hang in the gym.
But instead of uncovering the sign herself, Dixon grabbed former teammates out of the crowd to join her in the ceremonial unveiling.
“If I thank everybody individually, I’d be here all night,” Dixon said. “But I do want to give a special shout-out to all the players I played with here in Linden. When we stepped on this court, we wanted to represent this city and we gave it our all. I came in with so much pride for how we put on for our city. I could not have done anything here without my teammates. They were everything to me. Really, they should be standing here behind this podium with me.”
Dixon is only the third Linden student athlete whose number has been retired. Football star Muhammad Wilkerson, class of 2007, had his number retired in 2017. Dixon’s name now hangs in the gym opposite to basketball star Desmond Wade, class of 2008, who attended the ceremony.
“I thank everyone for coming out,” Dixon said. “You could have done anything else tonight, but you chose to come and spend it with me, so thank you.”