Wayman Tisdale (– May 15, 2009)

Wayman Lawrence Tisdale  was an American professional basketball player in the NBA and a smooth jazz bass guitarist. A three-time All American at the University of Oklahoma, he was elected to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

As a center and power forward, Tisdale averaged over 15 points and six rebounds per game in a 12-season professional career with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, and Phoenix Suns. His best season was in 1989–90 with the Kings, when he averaged 22.3 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. Tisdale and Mitch “The Rock” Richmond combined to form one of the most dynamic duos in the NBA. Tisdale retired in 1997 to focus on his musical career.

Tisdale became the first player in any sport to have his jersey number (23) retired by the University of Oklahoma in 1997. When Blake Griffin was granted permission to wear it during his career at OU (2007–2009), he sought and received Tisdale’s blessing before accepting it.

Tisdale died on the morning of May 15, 2009, at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, where his wife had taken him when he had trouble breathing. Tisdale’s agent described his death as a “great shock” and noted that Tisdale had been planning to go into the recording studio the following week for a project with jazz guitarist Norman Brown.

The outstanding freshman award in the NCAA is named the Wayman Tisdale Award.


Career highlights and awards
3× Consensus first-team All-American (1983–1985)
3× Big Eight Player of the Year (1983–1985)
No. 23 honored by the University of Oklahoma

Men’s basketball
Competitor for the United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1984 Los Angeles Team competition
Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place 1983 Caracas Team competition