Wayman Tisdale, 1964-2009Wayman Tisdale--Olympic gold medalist, College Basketball Hall of Famer, accomplished jazz musician--passed away on Friday. He was a smooth-shooting forward for the Pacers, Kings and Suns who averaged 15.3 ppg and 6.1 rpg in 12 NBA seasons.
I remember Tisdale as a dominant collegiate player at Oklahoma, the first player ever to be selected to the AP All-American First Team as a freshman, sophomore and junior (freshmen did not become eligible for varsity play until the 1972-73 season but this is still--needless to say--a most impressive accomplishment). My most vivid memory of Tisdale is from the 1984 NCAA Tournament, when Oklahoma squared off against the University of Dayton Flyers, my hometown team. The Flyers were led by Roosevelt Chapman, a 6-4 forward from Brooklyn who the public knew as "Velvet" but who I knew as the summer camp counselor who taught me how to properly shoot a layup. Chapman was a very flamboyant player but off of the court he was soft-spoken and did not like to draw attention to himself; I remember when I and other campers implored him to put on a dunking display for us but he sheepishly declined. Chapman is still my favorite college basketball player of all-time and I was so excited when he scored 41 points against the celebrated Tisdale as UD pulled off the huge upset during the middle of one of the best Cinderella runs in NCAA Tournament history. If you would have told me at that time that Chapman would never play in the NBA and that less than 25 years later Tisdale would be dead I would have never believed you; only later did I learn what a "tweener" is--and only later did I learn about suffering and about how even the strongest, proudest and noblest can be cut down in an instant: the longer you live, the more that gets taken away from you (youth, health, hopes/dreams) until only memories remain (and sometimes the ravages of disease rob people of their memories as well).
It is very difficult to understand why life can be so short, so brutal and so cruel. Tisdale was a young man who seemingly had won his battle against cancer, yet now he is gone--and before he died, this great athlete had to endure the suffering of losing one of his legs.
posted by David Friedman @ 1:23 AM