NEW YORK - Wayman Tisdale was an All-America basketball star at Oklahoma, part of the gold medal-winning team at the 1984 Olympics and a 12-year NBA veteran who amassed more than 12,000 points and 5,000 rebounds.
Then there's the Wayman Tisdale who's making his mark in contemporary jazz, a 37-year-old recording artist who played a pair of sold-out shows recently with saxman Kirk Whalum aboard radio station CD101.9's "Smooth Cruise" on the Hudson.
Imagine, two well-known guys, in two different professions, both named Wayman Tisdale.
"A whole lot of people think there are two Wayman Tisdales," he chuckled. "I'm the same one, the same one who used to get beat up on by the Knicks all the time."
How does an athlete go from driving the baseline in hoops to laying down bass lines in the studio?
"I'm always thinking ahead," Tisdale said. "Even when I was playing, I kept thinking what was next. If I rested on my laurels, I'd disappear as a person."
Long before he retired from the pros four years ago, Tisdale had been working on his music, be it in his hotel room on the road or carrying along his bass and pocket amp on the team bus.
"I took so much flak for that," he said. "I would get on the bus, and Charles Barkley would say, 'Wayman, play me a song' or 'Here comes Michael Jackson.' I took it, but I love those guys... I knew I would make a career in it."
While still playing for the Phoenix Suns, Tisdale released two albums on Motown's jazz label, MoJazz. His second album for Atlantic, "Face to Face," was released in March and has sold about 35,000 copies.
At 6-foot-8, he battled the big men on the court, but on records he can show a deft, delicate touch. "Even though I was strong, I had a lot of finesse and smoothness in my game," he said. "If you put my basketball game on TV and my music right under it, I think you could see me in both of them."
Tisdale credits his late father for the drive that is propelling him through two careers. His father gave up an electrician's job in Fort Worth, Texas, and moved the family to Oklahoma to become a minister in a small church, at considerable financial sacrifice.
"Growing up, overhearing the conversations (about money) with my mother," he said, "my mother would say, 'What are we going to do?' And he would say, 'The Lord will make a way.'"
Young Tisdale listened to gospel quartets and the jazz records of his older brother before he made his own way to the OU campus and wound up an All-American as a freshman.
He played alongside Michael Jordan on the U.S. team that won gold in 1984.
Tisdale was the second pick in the 1985 draft; Indiana selected him right after the Knicks took Patrick Ewing. He later played for Sacramento and Phoenix.
When it was time to leave, Tisdale was ready to leap into the next stage of his life. "It was too early to retire at 33. I just changed careers," he said.
Besides, "It's a lot easier on my knees."Archive ID: 856667