For those who grow up in the Eighties watching University of Oklahoma basketball, the news of Wayman Tisdale having part of his leg amputated is difficult to comprehend. Not only was Tisdale the greatest basketball player ever to wear crimson and cream, but he instilled a passion for Sooner hoops that equaled football fanfare.
Coming out of Tulsa's Booker T. Washington High School in 1982, Tisdale was an instant smash on the court. He became a first-team All-American as a freshman, an accomplishment not even Michael Jordon could match. Tisdale was just the player head coach Billy Tubbs needed to take Sooner basketball from the bottom of a conference to the height of national status.
It wasn't just the fact that Tisdale was a scoring machine, averaging 25 points a game throughout his OU career. He practically copyrighted his famous one-handed turnaround jumper. It wasn't just the fact that Tisdale was a key player on the 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball team that took gold. It wasn't just the fact that Tisdale was the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA draft. There was more to Wayman than basketball.
His smile was as much of a trademark as his ability to leap above the rim and slam down two points or block the opponents' tallest shot. Which is why it is so hard to believe that this man, who could jump right out of a gym, will now have to learn to walk with one half of a leg cut off due to cancer.
But don't feel sorry for Tisdale. His life has been more than basketball, turning his talents to jazz music since retiring from the NBA in 1997. And losing part of a leg is much better than losing a life to cancer. This setback will not diminish that familiar smile.