Griffin to wear No. 23 for OU
Tisdale ‘really cool' about number being worn again

By Scott Wright Published: May 15, 2007
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NORMAN — When he was asked by Oklahoma basketball coach Jeff Capel what jersey number he'd like to wear next season, Blake Griffin had a couple different choices in mind.

The Oklahoma Christian School senior didn't bother asking for No. 32. He knew his brother, Taylor, wasn't giving it up.

He wanted No. 15 — his high school number — but that belongs to David Godbold.

So he settled on his next choice, No. 23. The number of the most famous, most talented, most loved player ever to wear an Oklahoma basketball uniform — Wayman Tisdale.

There are parallels between Tisdale and Griffin. Both signed with OU after stellar high school careers, each regarded as the best player in Oklahoma at the time.

For three years, Tisdale was the face of Oklahoma basketball, turning around a mediocre program and starting a postseason streak that ended last season after 25 years.

Already, fans' expectations for Griffin — fair or not — are that he'll become the rock upon which Capel rebuilds the OU program. And that is more than enough pressure, regardless of his jersey number.

"I asked Blake, ‘Are you sure? Do you know whose number that is?' ” Capel said. "He did. He knew the history and everything about Wayman Tisdale.

"So I told him that's a lot to live up to. He was only possibly the best player ever in the Big Eight and the best player ever at Oklahoma.”

After the conversation with Griffin, Capel wanted to talk to Tisdale, whose jersey, not his number, was retired by OU in 1997. Because the number wasn't retired, it was a courtesy, not a necessity, that Capel ask permission to use it.

"If it was a situation like that, I would have never approached Wayman,” said Capel, who had lunch with Tisdale while he was in Norman last December.

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Former OU basketball star Wayman Tisdale will see his former No. 23 jersey back on the court next year, worn by incoming freshman Blake Griffin. BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN

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