Former Mavericks center Roy Tarpley dies at age 50
Former Dallas Mavericks center Roy Tarpley has died at the age of 50.
A Tarrant County medical examiner's report says Tarpley died at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital on Friday afternoon. No cause of death was given, but members of the Mavericks' traveling party for their game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday had been told that liver failure was one factor, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban offered the following on Twitter:
Born in New York, Tarpley played in high school in Detroit and became a standout over four seasons at Michigan, earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors as a junior in 1984-85 and helping the Wolverines win the Big Ten title that season and the following year.
Tarpley was selected by the Mavericks with the No. 7 pick in the 1986 NBA draft and made an impact immediately. He averaged 7.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in his first season en route to being named to the All-Rookie Team and was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year in 1988 after averaging 13.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
But Tarpley soon found himself embroiled in substance abuse problems that would plague him the rest of his NBA career and eventually end his time in the league.
Tarpley was arrested for driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest early in the 1989-90 season and was suspended by the NBA as a result. He was suspended again the following season after another DWI arrest and accrued a third drug violation several months later, resulting in a ban from the league.
Tarpley was reinstated in 1994 and returned to the Mavericks, but was then banned permanently in December 1995 for violating the terms of an aftercare program.
He played for multiple teams overseas and in domestic minor leagues in between his NBA suspensions and after his final ban, spending the final three seasons of his career in the U.S. He appeared most recently for the Michigan Mayhem of the Continental Basketball Association in 2005-06.
Tarpley was a part of three Mavericks teams that made the playoffs, including the 1987-88 team that made the Western Conference finals, the farthest the franchise advanced until it returned to the conference finals in 2002-03.
Over his six-season NBA career, Tarpley averaged 12.6 points and 10 rebounds in 280 games.
- Ben Estes