OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- Notables from around Oklahoma have issued statements concerning the passing of Wayman Tisdale.
Governor Brad Henry:
"Oklahoma has lost one of its most beloved sons. Wayman Tisdale was a hero both on and off the basketball court. Wayman played at OU during the time I attended school there, and I had the privilege of seeing a true champion in action. He was an incredible athlete and competitor.
"Off the court, he was an equally gifted musician and a tremendous ambassador for our state. I had the pleasure of appointing Wayman to serve on the state Tourism Commission, and it was one of the best appointments I have made as governor.
"In his two-year battle with cancer, Wayman demonstrated courage, faith and true strength of character. Even in the most challenging of times, he had a smile for people, and he had the rare ability to make everyone around him smile. He was one of the most inspirational people I have ever known.
"Wayman Tisdale was a man of extraordinary talents and an extraordinary heart, and he will be deeply missed. Kim and I have Wayman's wife, children and family in our thoughts and prayers."
Jeff Capel, Oklahoma men's basketball head coach:
"Wayman Tisdale is one of the best people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He had an incredible gift of making the people who came in contact with him feel incredibly special. His basketball talent and accomplishments pale in comparison to the impact he had on the lives that he influenced by the way he lived his life, and the tremendous character he displayed in his fight with cancer. Throughout it all, he always had that infectious smile. This is an incredibly sad day as we have lost not only one of the greatest Sooners ever, but one of the all-time best people to walk the face of this earth."
Billy Tubbs, former OU basketball coach:
"Wayman, through this fight of his, was the most courageous person that I've ever seen. He was so positive he almost made you feel he was okay when you knew he wasn't. It's a shock. I don't know of any athlete at Oklahoma or any place else who was more loved by the fans who knew him than Wayman Tisdale. He was obviously, a great, great player, but Wayman as a person overshadowed that. He just lit up a room and was so positive. This is a really hard loss and makes any loss in basketball or any other sport insignificant. He was a great human being. I'll miss everything about him."
Darryl "Choo" Kennedy, OU forward (1984-87):
"He was my man. I played with him pretty much all my life, going back to AAU. He was the reason I wanted to go to OU. I wanted to play with one of the greatest players to ever come out of Oklahoma. He was a great person. He was always positive, he never let the negative bring us down as a unit. He always smiled and kept us together. I'll miss him. He was one of my brothers."
Blake Griffin, OU forward (2008-09):
"This is obviously a sad day, not just for Sooner fans but for anybody who knows Wayman, knows the kind of person he is, the joy he brings into people's lives and the example he is to everybody. I was privileged to get to know him over the two years I was at OU. I spoke with him pretty frequently this past season and he helped me in ways he probably doesn't even know. He's touched so many lives. I'm just happy he's going to a better place."
David L. Boren, University of Oklahoma President:
"Wayman Tisdale was not only a great athlete and musician, he was above all a great person. He constantly demonstrated his care and concern for others and was a worthy role model for all of us young and old. The University of Oklahoma will always be proud of his association with the university."
John Holcomb, News On 6 sports director:
"I can't say I was a good friend of Wayman Tisdale, even though like many Oklahomans I felt that way. It's easy to think in those terms about someone who seemed so warm, so personable, so happy. His basketball ability is what made us take notice. His personality is what drew us in.
Wayman's style of play was a mix of power and grace. The college game had just experienced Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, but the OU freshman out of Booker T brought something new. Once he got into position down low, defenders had no chance. His left-handed turnaround with that soft touch was unstoppable.
During his three All-American years with the Sooners, three things stick out in my memory. The game with Georgia Tech, led by Mark Price, that the Sooners won in Norman, punctuated by a Tisdale dunk. The game with Tulsa at the Convention Center, a goal-tending call on a shot by Wayman and the subsequent finger-pointing, and Billy Tubbs' vow never to return. And Wayman's game-winner in the NCAA's to beat Karl Malone and Louisiana Tech (and the radio call by John Brooks).
As spectacular as his time in Norman was, Wayman's NBA journey was probably underappreciated. He did end up averaging more than 15 points per game for his career, mostly on below-average teams.
Wayman had plenty of star power, yet he was just fine letting others take center stage. Most may not remember that while Michael Jordan and others took the headlines during the 1984 Olympics, Wayman was Team USA's leading rebounder on that gold medal-winning squad.
That trait translated after his playing days to his music. An award-winning bassist, plenty good enough to take over, but willing to establish the foundation for others to succeed.
When I think of Wayman, I'll remember a big, approachable bear of a man, with that smile. That engaging smile, probably the only thing that outsized his musical talent or what he accomplished on the court.
Thank you Wayman, for making so many of us smile along with you."