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Tisdale Tunes Former OU Basketball Star Focuses on Career as Jazz Musician

Andrew Gilman Modified: May 15, 2009 at 2:23 pm •  Published: December 16, 1998

Wayman Tisdale was once a basketball player.

Three times an All-American at Oklahoma, a first-round selection in the NBA draft, a U.S. Olympic athlete. He left OU as the school's all-time leading scorer and returned to have his jersey retired.

Alvan Adams may have put Oklahoma basketball on the map, but Tisdale made it cool.

Once a basketball player, but always a musician.

"I'm able to express myself musically," he said with his always-present smile before a show Monday night at Birdies in Bricktown. "If I couldn't play and have a good time and laugh, I wouldn't be Wayman."

He's still Wayman.

He got his start at his father's church in Tulsa. Basketball came a year later. People might know him from his turnaround jumper or from his 12 seasons in the NBA, but the 6-foot-9 Tisdale is concentrating on his music career full time, and has released three albums, including his recent work, "Decisions."

"My biggest hurdle is people thinking that I'm just a basketball player," he said. "But this (tour) has turned out to be the best thing that I've done musically."

No more turnaround jumpers, but he is still jammin'.

He is in the middle of a 14-city, three week tour, playing smooth jazz Christmas music on the sixth annual JazzTrax Christmas Concert Tour.

While the audience may come to see the former hoop star, he has already convinced those around him that he's got another type of game.

"I don't know much about basketball," said Marc Antoine, who plays alongside of Tisdale on their 14-city tour. "But Wayman is a pro. Jazz music doesn't have the same audience as basketball, but he's definitely in the top 10."

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