Mavs From the Past: Roy Tarpley


Roy Tarpley was selected by the Dallas Mavericks 7th overall in the 1986 NBA Draft. His NBA career started off good, averaging 7.5 points per game (PPG), 7.1 rebounds per game (RPG), 0.7 assists per game (APG), 0.7 steals per game (SPG), and 1.1 blocks per game (BPG). He played in 75 of the games while starting in one of them. He finished off the season being part of the NBA All-Rookie Team.

His reign of dominance continued into his second season, where he averaged 13.5 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.3 SPG, and 1.1 BPG in 81 games. For his good efforts in the season he was awarded Sixth Man of the Year in his second season. Unfortunately, for Tarpley that was his best season and the beginning to the end of his NBA career.

In his next season, Tarpley only played in 19 games due to knee injuries. During the 1989-1990 season he only played in 45 games due to drunk driving and being suspended. In the following season, he played in five games and was banned for two years from playing in the NBA for violating its drug-use policies.

During that time, Tarpley played overseas in Greece. In the 1992-1993 FIBA European Cup season, he won the Saporta Cup, with Aris Basketball Club. The following season, Tarpley was Greek League champion and won the Greek Cup, as part of the Olympiacos Basketball Club.

Tarpley made his return to the Mavericks for the 1994-1995 season. During his return season, he showed he still had some of his skills from years before as he averaged 12.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 1.1 BPG in 55 games played. However, his time back with the Mavericks was short lived due to using alcohol and violating his court-ordered aftercare program and as a result he got banned for life from the NBA. He finished his NBA career having averaged 12.6 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 1.2 BPG. 

Tarpley continued to play basketball in the United States and overseas. He tried to recover from his alcohol problems. In 2007, he sued the NBA and the Mavericks for not reinstating him and violating the Americans with Disability Act, since his past alcohol addiction was considered a disability. The lawsuit however was settled out of court in 2009. Sadly, Tarpley’s life story did not have a happy ending as he passed away in 2015 from unknown reasons, however, liver failure was reported to be a possible factor. Tarpley had impressive basketball skills and showed a lot of potential, but his problems off the court was his ultimate downfall that ended a potentially great career.

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