Wayman Tisdale 1964-2009

Tisdale made the transition from NBA to smooth jazz.

Tisdale made the transition from NBA to smooth jazz.

Most athletes when they hang up their sneakers quietly fade away.  A few make the transition to a second career.  Even fewer become successful in their new endeavor.

Wayman Tisdale played power forward for the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers in a 12-uear career.  He was the all-time leading scorer and rebounder at the University of Oklahoma. 

Tisdale never won a championship as a pro, but in his 12 seasons he hustled, made plays and was an asset to the teams he played for.

In 1995, Tisdale released his first album, Power Forward, which was a play on words as that was the position he played on the court.  Most of his album titles were variations on basketball terms including Rebound,  In the Zone and Hang Time.

Tisdale played for three teams in 12 seasons in the NBA.

Tisdale played for three teams in 12 seasons in the NBA.

In 2006, I reviewed Tisdale’s album Way Up! for All About Jazz.com. Tisdale would later include the review on his website.   I never had the chance to interview him which is something I throughly regret.   From everything I’ve read and heard about Tisdale, he took his music as seriously as squaring off against any opponent on the hardwood.

The electric bass has gone from being merely a timekeeping compliment in music to a lead instrument as Tisdale successfully followed in the big footprints of Larry Graham,  Bootsy Collins and Stanley Clarke in the style of thumbing, slapping and popping the strings to get a fatter, fuller and far funkier sound from the bass.

Tisdale was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 following a fall in his home.  His right leg was broken in the fall and doctors, wondering why the leg  broke so easily subsequently discovered the cancer.    The leg would later be amputated but Tisdale would continue to perform and play.  In 2008, he released the album Rebound.

Tisdale is survived by his wife  and their four children.


3 thoughts on “Wayman Tisdale 1964-2009

  1. Nice article – he’ll be missed.

    Two little things though – he played for the University of Oklahoma, not Oklahoma State. And he won a gold medal playing for the US Olympic team (playing for Bobby Knight, with Patrick Ewing, Steve Alford, Sam Perkins, Chris Mullen and a guy named Michael Jordan.) That was the last team of non-professional U.S. players to win the gold medal at the Olympics.


  2. I’m afraid I wasn’t that familiar with Tisdale, but I’ve listened to some of his stuff over the past day or so. I guess his passing is a poor excuse to take an interest, but I’m glad I have. He also seemed like a really nice, easy-going and level-headed guy in the bits of interview footage I’ve seen.


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