First, he conquered the basketball world as a skilled big man. Then, he commandeered the jazz scene as a smooth jazz guitarist. But neither of those triumphs compare to the victory that Oklahoma native and Sooner legend Wayman Tisdale is scoring over bone cancer. Treatment continues, but so does life as Tisdale played Friday in Tulsa and will perform Sunday in Oklahoma City. Jenni Carlson: You haven't played in your home state for a while. Wayman Tisdale: It's been awhile since I played Oklahoma City. I did the Riverwind Casino last December. I always look forward to playing in Oklahoma in front of my home crowd. JC: You've had a pretty intense tour schedule lately. How has that been for you? WT: It's been great. When you go on tour and you're working, it doesn't seem like work. I just enjoy what I do so much. It's actually a dream coming true. JC: You're still within a year of your diagnosis. Were you at all concerned about balancing health and music? WT: I had to cancel like 40 or 50 dates last year, but we wanted to ease back into it somewhat. The first couple of months, I only did a couple shows. Then, I did the Christmas tour with Dave Koz. That was a lot of dates. We did like 23 shows in 26 days. It was something crazy like that. But the good thing was we were actually touring on a bus, and everything went well. It's easier when you're touring on a bus. JC: You're a guy who's always drawn applause, but what has it meant to hear it again? WT: The thing for me is, this whole experience has let me realize, not that I took it for granted, but how appreciative I am of the people who love what I do whether it was basketball or music. I'm just really appreciative of the love that's been shown to me. One of the things that really helped me when I was going through the treatment, I would just sit up for hours and read e-mails. That was just really great for me. JC: The message board on your Web site had all sorts of great stuff, too. WT: People just don't have any idea how much that really helped me and helped me through on my tough days. JC: What were the tough days like? WT: It was tough. The hardest thing for me ... was when the doctor told me that I was going to have to take it easy for a while. I was like, "I don't know how to take it easy.” That was one of the toughest things, to learn how to relax. But it did help me. It was time to really enjoy life. Not that I wasn't enjoying life, but to enjoy another part of life that maybe was going by me. It gave me a chance to be with my wife and kids and be home. That was really good for me. JC: How does what you went through shape you now? WT: From this point on, I'm a walking testimony that you can make it. As long as you live, you're going to have some bumps in the road. It's how you come out of those that determines your character and who you are as a person. JC: So, are you done with cancer treatments, or is there more remaining? WT: I'm still going through my medical treatments now. I don't know how much longer, but it's not stopping me. I'm able to work and do what I'm doing. JC: Do you consider yourself cancer-free? WT: Yes, I do.
Former OU basketball player Wayman Tisdale is back in the state for two concerts this weekend. THE OKLAHOMAN archive