Ever tell you my Roy Tarpley story? In 1994-95 I'm covering the Dallas Mavericks for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. After some horrible seasons under Quinn Buckner and the like, the organization is abuzz. The Three J's - remember them? - are in place and rejoining the rebuilding is the most talented, most athletic 7-footer in franchise history, Roy Tarpley. Banned from the NBA in 1991 for violating the league's substance abuse policy three times after being drafted in 1986, he's back. When sober and in shape, Tarpley was a monster. All-Rookie team. Sixth Man of the Year. Gave James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar fits in the late '80s. But now? Some nights he puts up a double-double. Other nights he looks lost and disinterested. Most nights he's well, Roy Tarpley, the one I documented here. And one night, he played an NBA game drunk, or high, or something ...
I walk into the Mavs' locker room at Reunion Arena before a game early in '95 to chat up Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson, Jamal Mashburn and coach Dick Motta. As I turn to leave, there's Tarpley. Standing in his locker. Arms out. Stark naked. Swaying. Half slurring. Totally yelling.
Richie Shitt! Richie Shitt!! Richie Shitt!!! You little fucker. I don't give a shit what you write. You know why? Because you know what I'm going to do? I'm going into my backyard, and I'm going to pee into that lake. I'm going to water it back and forth and back and forth ... like a big sprinkler. Fill that fucker up! That's what I'm going to do. And you can't do anything to stop me. So fuck you!
On my way to the court, I pulled Mavs owner Don Carter aside and told him that he might want to go visit with his center. But 45 minutes later, after swaying and almost losing his balance during the National Anthem, Tarpley started the game. The first pass, not surprisingly, slipped through his hands and sailed out of bounds, prompting him to look at his hands and giggle while meandering up court.
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Miraculously, he finished the game. But less than a month later he was finished, banned again - this time for life.
And now you know why I'm disgusted that Tarpley, now 44, recently settled a lawsuit against the NBA and the Mavericks that claimed they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to reinstate him after a ban for drug use.
"Settled' = money, and that dude doesn't deserve a penny. His only disability was a lack of will power to say no.
I'm all for second chances. But sixth and seventh chances and money for nothing? Sickening.