Friday, May 15, 2009

Former Oklahoma great Tisdale dies at 44


Wayman Tisdale, a three-time All-American at Oklahoma who played 12 seasons in the NBA, has died after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 44.

Tisdale died about 8 a.m. Friday at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, hospital spokeswoman Joy McGill said.

After three years at Oklahoma, the 6-foot-9 Tulsa native spent 12 seasons in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns.

He first learned he had cancerous cyst below his right knee after he broke his leg in a fall at his home in Los Angeles on Feb. 8, 2007. His leg was amputated last August, but he had made several public appearances since then, including on April 7 at an Oklahoma City Thunder game.

After his basketball career, Tisdale became an award-winning jazz musician, with several of his albums making the top 10 on the Billboard charts. Last month, Tisdale learned he had been chosen for induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

In 1983, Tisdale became the first freshman to make The Associated Press' first-team All-America list, an honor he received again in 1984 and 1985. He averaged 25.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game during his three seasons with the Sooners, earning Big Eight Conference player of the year after each season.

He still holds Oklahoma's career scoring record with 2,661 points and career rebounding record with 1,048. Tisdale also owns the school's single-game scoring mark, a 61-point outing against Texas-San Antonio as a sophomore, along with career records in points per game, field goals and free-throw makes and attempts.

Tisdale also played on the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympic Games.

He went on to average 15.3 points per game during his pro career with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns.

Tisdale's death was announced on the Oklahoma Senate floor Friday by Senate Majority Leader Todd Lamb, who led the Chamber in prayer.

"Whether you're a Cowboy or a Sooner, Oklahoma has lost a great ambassador," Lamb said. "He was a gifted musician, a gifted athlete and he just wore that well wherever he went."


John Myers 11 years, 9 months ago

To change Lamb's final quote a bit "Whether you're a Cowboy or a Sooner or just a basketball fan in general, the world has lost a great ambassador.

Tisdale was a stud..

RIP Wayman

John Sheehan 11 years, 9 months ago

Tragic Loss. That guy was a beast as a player - just dominant. And he was an even better musician. We should all strive to use our gifts in a full life in the manner Tisdale used his in a shortened one. RIP Wayman and prayers to your family / friends.

FlaHawk 11 years, 9 months ago

I agree with STL_HAWK, Wayman was a helluva BB player but he was even better as a jazz musican! RIP my dear multi-talented amigo.

KUFan90 11 years, 9 months ago

Sad...and scary....

Lots of memories of Wayman from my college days.

kranny 11 years, 9 months ago

Wayman is going home. What an awesome player and talented person.

jayhawkinATL 11 years, 9 months ago

Great guy!!! I remember walking up and talking to him after an exhibition game of the Pan Am team (coached by KSU's Hartman) in Salina. He was talking to Billy Tubbs and took a few moments to sign an autograph and chat. What made the moment even more memorable (with respect to Wayman) was seeing Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins just peering out from the tunnel, not caring to mingle with the fans after the game.

rawkhawk 11 years, 9 months ago

I remember rooting against Tisdale in the heated OU-KU 80's rivalry days and then him playing with Manning in the pros. I'll have to look into his recordings.

Tragic story. I wish his family, friends, and OU fans well. Tisdale was an important figure in the history of basketball.

Joe Baker 11 years, 9 months ago

Great guy and one of the best attitudes of all time. Thanks for the memories Wayman...your smile will be missed !!

He is a huge loss to the OU community and B12 (B8) b-ball !!

JHawkHolmy 11 years, 9 months ago

I've been a long time reader of and the posts but have never signed up for an account or posted on any article, but this story of Wayman Tisdale has prompted me to sign up and post. He was a incredible college player, he was so smooth to watch, one of my all time favorites. I also have 2 of his CD's and they are great. He wasn't as great in the NBA but it sounds like he was even greater as a human. He will be missed.

A couple of days ago I was thinking of articles to get us through the off-season as there is so much excitement about the upcoming season. One poll/article idea I had was to name your all time non-KU Big 8/12 basketball players. Guys you didn't want to root for as they were our competitors but deep down you enjoyed watching and respected their game. At the top of my list would be Wayman Tisdale. He was incredible to watch, even in a Sooner uniform. I'd love to hear others responses and to see this article in the KU basketball section.

Peace to all of Waymans family& friends as well as his, OU & Big 8 fans.

Brian Conrad 11 years, 9 months ago

Was very fun to watch, amazing talent. Played as if he was 7' plus . Prayers to his family.

John Brown 11 years, 9 months ago

Wayman was a great player and musician. It was great to see an athlete who could be just as great at something outside of sports. He brought the best out of Danny in the big 8 and in the NCAA Championship game. Great competitors do that. It is sad to see him pass.

KGphoto 11 years, 9 months ago


That's the first I'd heard of the cancer.

Should've done it before, but now I'm buying everything he ever recorded. Jazz music is a great way to live, and a great way to reminisce.

Rodney Stice 11 years, 9 months ago

Wayman, you have were a true anti-hero to watch and love to hate while you played at OU. Your skills on the court were great to watch. May God except you into his home, and bless your family and friends during their time of grief.

yates33333 11 years, 9 months ago

O'Lord, grant thy servant, Wayman Tisdale, eternal life, and may the light perpetual shine upon him.

We lost a good one.

Blake Post 11 years, 9 months ago

Wayman, Billy and the Boys. Who else seemed like they were having that much fun? Danny spoke fondly and respectfully of his pro teammate some years ago, as one who started the rise of Big 8 basketball to another level. I think Wayman brought out the best in Kelly Knight too when we played them.

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