Roy Tarpley, a former troubled NBA center has died on Jan. 9, at 50 years old, ESPN reported. Tarpley died died at a hospital in Arlington, Texas. The cause of death was not revealed at the time.
The Dallas Mavericks – team with which Tarpley played his whole NBA career, released a statement on the issue.
“The Dallas Mavericks organization is deeply saddened upon hearing the death of former Sixth Man of the Year Roy Tarpley,” the team said in a statement. “Our deepest condolences go out to his family. Mavs fans everywhere will remember him fondly.”
The owner of the Mavericks, Mark Cuban also expressed his condolences on Twitter, saying “Our condolences go out to the family of Roy Tarpley. RIP Roy.”
Tarpley was a talented 6’11 center from Michigan, who earned the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award in his second season in 1986. That was the final full season of Tarpley’s career due to suspensions. Tarpley played for the Mavericks until October 1991, when he was kicked out of the NBA for using cocaine.
Tarpley reportedly did not abuse alcohol and drugs in college, but couldn’t stay away from it even with his talent.
Tarpley played in Greece until the NBA reinstated him in 1994. He signed a six-year, $20 million contract with the Mavericks but was permanently banned from the NBA in December 1995 for using alcohol and violating the terms of a court-imposed personal aftercare program.
Tarpley possessed enough athletism and power to battle the league’s greatest players. His scoring average improved from 7.5 ppg in his rookie season to 13.5 ppg the next season and to 17.3 ppg the following season.
Tarpley was of great help to the Mavs during the 1987-88 run to the Western Conference finals, where they lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 17.9 points and 12.9 rebounds.
However, Tarpley’s off-court issues were a driving force in the darkest era of the franchise’s history, a span that included 10 consecutive losing seasons and 12 years without a playoff victory. Tarpley was suspended three times over the next three years. His third suspension lasted until the 1994-95 season, when Tarpley played 55 games before receiving the lifetime ban.
After his NBA career ended, he returned to Greece, and also played in Cyprus, Russia and China. He also spent time with Wichita Falls, Sioux Falls and Michigan in the Continental Basketball Association, and Miami and Dodge City in the U.S. Basketball League, playing into his 40s.
Tarpley filed a lawsuit against the NBA and the Mavericks in 2007, in which he claimed the league and the team violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to reinstate him. The parties reached an undisclosed settlement in 2009.
Overall, Tarpley spent 6 seasons in the NBA, playing in 280 games (started 57), averaging 12.6 ppg, 10 rpg and 1.2 bpg in 26.7 mpg.
Check out the video tribute to Tarpley, with his NBA highlights
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