Roy Tarpley and How He Got Banned From the NBA for Drinking

The date was November 28th, 1964. Lyndon Baines Johnson was still President, the Vietnam War was starting to spark mass protests and riots, and Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics were on their way to a seventh straight championship. And somewhere in the Big Apple – New York, New York – a young boy by the name of Roy James Tarpley was born.

Skip to 18 years later, at the University of Michigan, Roy Tarpley’s averaging just nine minutes a game. But after 13 games off the bench the next season, it was decided that he’d been doing well enough that he would be the starting center for Michigan from then on.

And they would not change their mind. He proved them right by averaging a solid 12 and eight his sophomore year, before increasing those numbers significantly to 19 and 10 for his junior season, being named Big Ten Player of the Year.

Despite being a consensus top-five pick and seeing lots of suggestions to leave early though, he stayed for his senior season, which… well, it wasn’t the right move.

His numbers went down and he fell down to pick #7, but that’s still a very high slot in the draft.

One thing that definitely was a shame from his time at Michigan though: they never made it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament, despite the fact that they spent one year as a one seed and one as a two seed.

As I said earlier, he went on to be picked seventh, by the Dallas Mavericks, sandwiched between the Suns’ choice of William Bedford and the Cavaliers’ of Ron Harper.

The Dallas Mavericks had only existed for six years before he joined the team, but at this point, they were in a very good place. They’d made the playoffs the last three years with winning records, and the last three top ten picks that they’d gotten were Dale Ellis, Sam Perkins, and Detlef Schrempf. Three players who all turned out to have very good careers.

Tarpley didn’t start out amazing certainly – he averaged just seven points and seven rebounds in limited minutes off the bench, only starting one game and playing 18 minutes per game; in the playoffs though, he made himself known with averages of 13 points and 10 rebounds throughout their series against the Sonics, including a game where he had 25 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks.

And that absolutely translated into a great sophomore season. While most players seem to have a sophomore slump, he won Sixth Man of the Year, averaged 13.5 points and 11.8 rebounds in 28 minutes per game off the bench, plus an assist, a steal, and a block per game.

If you want to refer to advanced stats, he had the highest total rebound percentage and highest offensive rebound percentage in the entire league, and this team, which was led by Mark Aguirre and Rolando Blackman, managed to come just one game away from the finals, losing in seven games to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.

In the offseason, the Lakers would actually offer a trade of James Worthy for Roy Tarpley, straight up, but the Mavericks would turn them down, and that ended up being a very bad mistake for the Mavs, as, just 13 games into the season, Tarpley would be suspended for almost the entire year for cocaine use.

But he served his time outside of the league and came back a much better player for the last six games of the year.

He averaged, in what’s obviously a very small sample size, around 23 points, 13 rebounds, two steals, and a block, and with the team revamped with Adrian Dantley there instead of Aguirre the next year, it seemed again like things might actually be looking up for Dallas.

And for Roy, as he was able to be a starter this season. In the first game of the season, he has 23 points, 17 rebounds, three steals, and two blocks, and things were really looking up.

But then, just five games later, he blew it. He was arrested in Dallas on charges of driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest, and he ended up being suspended by the league for another half season.

He came back for the second half of the year and balled out, but this was starting to become a problem and a pattern.

Then, five games into the next year- this one actually wasn’t a substance abuse thing! – he tore his ACL. So he misses the entire season again.

But then, with the season almost over, in March, he is caught drunk driving. Again.

This didn’t actually get him banned from the league yet; just another suspension. The “three strikes, you’re out” rule was in place at the time, but they only counted the drug issues and the drinking issues separately. So with one drug violation and alcohol violations, it didn’t count as his third strike.

The third strike would be in the preseason of the next year, when he flat out refused to even take a drug test. And that automatically led the NBA to assume he was guilty, upon which he was officially banned from the NBA.

He went overseas and became an absolute sensation in Greece, leading Aris to win the EuroLeague and Olympiacos to make it to the EuroLeague final, but, unhappy with the level of competition and the level of pay (that probably didn’t lead to the same level of drugs and alcohol as his US contracts did), he decided in 1994 that he was going to try to come back to the NBA and play for the Mavericks again.

And he did succeed in getting reinstated!

A bit heavier than he was three years prior, Tarpley was repurposed from a power forward to a center and came off the bench, but he had a very solid season, averagin around 12 and eight.

The Mavericks even resigned him to a long-term contract.

But he couldn’t report to training camp the next year or play for quite a while at the start of the season because of some severe pancreas problems (which were brought to him likely because of his alcohol problem), and in December, when he showed up for a practice, the team’s trainers believed that he’d been having alcohol still, and that violated the terms that he’d agreed to upon his reinstatement to the league.

He got banned from the NBA at this point, for a second time – this time permanently – literally just for drinking alcohol at all this time.

He’d go on to play ten more years overseas and in semi-professional leagues in the US, but the story of Roy Tarpley in always going to be one of a “what if”.

Just over four years ago, Roy Tarpley passed away on January 9th, 2015, because of liver failure.

That is, of course, a disease that has very serious correlations to drinking problems.

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Five Teams That Could Use Jake Muzzin

Aside from the fact that most if not all teams in the NHL (besides Nashville) would benefit from a Jake Muzzin type of player. Muzzin will more than likely end up on a contending team, a team in the market for a top-three defenseman, therefore the list is not too big but looking at what Muzzin brings to the table. These five teams could use him.

Pittsburgh Penguins: This team cannot make a playoff run again with their number one defenseman being Brain Dumoulin, therefore Kris Letang needs to stay healthy and the Penguins need to add a d-man. In comes Muzzin, a defenseman who can play the penalty kill, power play, move the puck, contribute in the offensive end and play sound defense. Muzzin has 20 points in 46 games played this year, that is not chump numbers. In his career he has 493 games played with 212 points (.43 points per game). He has been a 40+ point defenseman in three seasons of his five and a half years in the NHL so far. The Penguins are always on the hunt for back end talent and Muzzin could be there guy.

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs have been longing for another defenseman for two years now, with the Norris like play of Morgan Reilly their blue has been a little better this year but the Leafs still have some holes back there. With Jake Gardiner being a little more offensive minded, Ron Hainsey aging and having younger talent picking up the slack. Jake Muzzin and his playoff/Stanley Cup experience plus his defensive mind would be perfect for Toronto. The Leafs also said their first round pick was up for grabs therefore that is available and they have the best prospect pool out there. It would be foolish not to try for Muzzin.

Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers need a d-man, they are not contenders but they have been asking for a defenseman for nearly a decade it seems like. Plus they have more than a first round pick to give up. The Flyers could easily throw Wayne Simmonds name in the conversation, a name the Los Angeles Kings are familiar with. I’m sure the Kings would not be opposed to seeing Simmonds back in Kings colors. Muzzin is a good fit for the Flyers too, tough, defensive-minded, posses some offense to his game and he comes with no learning curve and can be throw right into the fire. Again it would be asinine for the Flyers not to kick the can around with L.A.

Vegas Golden Knights: The Knights are again contenders this year and their General Manager has come forward and said he is not going to sit tight and be content with his current roster he is always planning and always looking to the future. Muzzin would definitely help that Vegas back end, one of the more so unexperienced blue lines in the NHL right now. Vegas has some decent forward but more importantly a ton of draft picks. Muzzin would definitely be a top-four defenseman on this team and I’m sure Vegas would feel a little more comfortable with Muzzin back there rather than Jon Merrill. It would be a smart move for this possible Cup contending team to make a move for a veteran defenseman like Muzzin.

Colorado Avalanche: With two defenseman ready to hit free-agency the Avalanche could easily fix that issue with Jake Muzzin. The Avalanche have one very important guy to worry about in the off-season which is Mikko Rantanen but they have also 13 million in cap space plus with the cap raise the Av’s should be fine. The Avalanche are a contending team right now that could use some help on the back end, on both the defensive side and offensive side. The Av’s also have two first round picks this year and some decent prospects to throw in the pool. I would not be surprised to see this team take a stab at Muzzin.

The Houston Rockets Championship window is closing

With the Golden State Warriors era of basketball running amuck on the league, the difficulty to win a championship for any team is tough especially for the Houston Rockets.

Winning against a team with 5 all-stars, in a 7-game series, is not only a daunting task but an impossible one for many teams. With Demarcus Cousins set to return on Friday against the Clippers, The Warriors now have 6 all-stars playing on their team.

Organizations around the league were forced to adapt to playing against Golden State’s brand of basketball. The three-point shot has evolved, becoming the most valuable way of scoring in today’s era of basketball. Post ups and Mid-range shooting are a thing of the past.

The Houston Rockets were one of the organizations who had to adopt a new style of basketball centered around 3 point shooting. Houston’s offense is the closest to the Warriors and even the Rockets couldn’t beat them in the Western Conference finals.

Last year, the Houston Rockets were only one game away from reaching the NBA Finals. But when Chris Paul went down with a hamstring injury, all hope was lost for the Rockets.

Chris Paul has been plagued with injuries playing in only 26 games this season. With the recent news that Clint Capela is out for 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury, James Harden is forced to carry the load for this team.

Chris Paul and Clint Capela are key pieces to the Rockets’ success. This team will go far as these two players go. If they can’t stay healthy or consistent, the Rockets will not be in contention for winning the championship this year.

The best shot the Rockets had to win a title was last season. It seems that the Rockets hasn’t mentally recovered from the western conference finals and free agency.

Chris Paul isn’t getting any younger and there are signs showing that father time is catching up to him. The Rockets are a struggling team this season. They had stretches where they were extremely bad, then they played good, and then bad again.

This team simply can’t stay consistent. If you can’t stay consistent in a Western Conference of the Warriors, Thunder, Nuggets, and Trail Blazers, you are bound to end up at the bottom of the pack.

 

With last night’s loss to the Nets, James Harden scored 58 points and the team attempted an unbelievable 70 three-pointers only making 23 of them. This raises concerns of if this team is even on the same page as they were up against the Nets late in the fourth quarter until giving up three straight 3 pointers from Spencer Dinwiddie to force overtime.

We have seen this same situation a couple weeks back against the Dallas Mavericks as rookie Luka Doncic capped off a comeback scoring 11 points in the final minutes of the game to defeat the Rockets.

With Elias Pettersson eyeing return do the Canucks make a push for the playoffs?

The Canucks have been quite the surprise this year and no one is covering it. They are ONE point out of a wild card spot but do have a game up on every other team. The Canucks are fifth in the Pacific division despite a 11 point difference with them and Vegas the third place team in that division. They are tenth in the Western Conference and 20th in the NHL. They have a record of 21-21-6 at the moment and just before the All-Star break, they finish January with three home games vs Buffalo, Detroit and Carolina.

The Canucks are ranked 16th in the NHL in goals for with 137, 9th in goals against with 148. Nineteenth in goals per game (2.85), tenth in goals against per game (3.08), twenty-first in power play percentage (17.3), twenty-third in penalty kill (78.3) and finally 26th in shots for per game (29.0).

The Canucks have missed Pettersson for 10 games now and are still in a playoff spot, have not even come close to seeing Brock Boeser’s best this season yet and again are still in the hunt. The Canucks have been a mildly successful team this season due to Bo Horvat consistency, Elias Pettersson taking the league by storm, depth guys chiming in when needed and Jacob Markstrom standing strong in net.

The Canucks are seeing a decent amount of production from Nikolay Goldobin (23 in 44), Loui Eriksson (19 in 48), Jake Virtanen (18 in 48), Antoine Roussel (18 in 43) but more importantly their defense has been pretty involved in the scoring. Alexander Edler has 19 points in 33 games, Ben Hutton has 17 points in 46 games and Try Stecher has 14 points in 44 games.

If the Canucks are to get back Pettersson healthy and back to his normal production, Horvat keeps his game up, Boeser increases his goal-scoring, Virtanen and Granlund step up and Markstrom stands strong they have a chance to squeak into the playoffs. Emphasis on when saying squeak hold the “k” for 2-3 seconds, because there only chance to make it is by squeaking in.

 

NBA Trade Rumors: Will the Mavs trade Dennis Smith Jr.?

On Monday January 14th 2018, it was rumored in the basketball world that the Dallas Mavericks have been interested in trading away their starting point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who was their 9th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

Since arriving to the league back in September of 2017, Smith had made quite a name for himself in his rookie season averaging 15.2 ppg, 5.2 apg, and 3.8 rpg. In his 2ndand current season in the NBA, Smith went a little downhill in each three categories of his stats. It may be due to the fact that the Mavericks had traded for their new future star, Luka Doncic, during the 2018 draft.

In many eyes of Mavericks fans around the world, Doncic has been the player that was expected out of Dennis Smith Jr. Luka is currently averaging 20.3 ppg, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.1 assists and is a soon to be NBA All-Star.

Luka is listed at 6 feet and 7 inches tall that can play any position from point guard through small forward. He was also put to start at the power forward position for Dallas earlier this season. So if the Mavericks do plan on trading away Smith, Luka can be the next starting point guard, depending on who they get in return.

When this news was first reported, two teams in the NBA have sparked interest in trading for the young point guard. Adrian Wojnarowski originally reported that the two teams that are interested in Smith are the Phoenix Suns and the Orlando Magic, which both teams are in need for a promising young and rising point guard.

A couple of days after this news broke out, it is now being reported by John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 that the Phoenix Suns have “no interest” in a trade for Dennis Smith Jr.

The Suns are a team that is in need for a point guard and it is quite odd for them not to be interested in a point guard with a bright future ahead of him. Smith Jr. can be the missing piece to the Suns starting lineup and hopefully get the team a couple of more wins and get Devin Booker to stay in Phoenix.

This leaves the Orlando Magic and other NBA teams to have a chance on getting DSJ. The Magic is the only team in the NBA that has been struggling with filling in that point guard spot in their lineup within the past couple of seasons. Yes, Phoenix does too but they may have a shot on drafting Murray State PG Ja Morant in this upcoming draft.

The current starting point guard for the Magic is D.J. Augustin who is currently averaging 11.4 points, 4.8 assists, and 2.2 rebounds per game. They’ve had many point guards in the past that did not workout with them. Without giving Augustin up for DSJ, the Magic can use his veteran presence as their 6th man and help develop Smith Jr for his future.

The trade deadline is currently three weeks away and who knows what teams will be interested and where Dennis Smith Jr. will end up. This also leads the question on everyone’s mind right now which is, “Will Dennis Smith Jr. get traded at all?”

Anaheim Ducks In Full Retool Mode Among 12-Game Losing Streak

The Anaheim Ducks are on full blown retool mode as their 12-game losing streak carries on and is put to the test again Thursday night vs Minnesota. The Ducks have lost their last twelve games, they have not won since December 17th. Therefore today marks the Ducks 1-month anniversary without winning a game.

There losing streak all started with the New York Rangers in Anaheim. The Rangers won 3-1 and from that moment on it has been all down hill for the Ducks. They have scored 20 goals over the course of their losing streak (1.6 goals per game), have allowed 43 goals against (3.6 goals against per game). Two of the Ducks 12 loses have come in overtime, so at least they have picked up two points in the last 12 games.

It is obvious that things are not well in Anaheim right now, head coach Randy Carlyle is calling reporters jerks, they shipped out a veteran Andrew Cogliano who spent the last eight seasons with Anaheim, traded a young upcoming forward prospect Pontus Aberg as well as Luke Schenn and Joseph Blandisi but they were not big factors on the roster.

The Ducks have since trading these players received in return, Michael Del Zotto (Luke Schenn deal), Derek Grant (Blandisi deal), Justin Kloos (Aberg deal) and Derek Shore (Cogliano deal)

The Ducks next four games until the All-Star break are the Minnesota Wild, Devils, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues. Aberg who was sent to Minnesota gets to play his old team for the first time since the new trade. 

I’m a big believer in shaking things up but I do not think this shake up/retool is going to benefit the Ducks a whole lot.

FREE NHL Picks: January 16, 2019

Colorado Avalanche vs Ottawa Senators

Things are getting a little better for Colorado at the moment, a big win vs Toronto was much needed for this team. A sure confidence boost, the Avalanche had success vs Toronto because their depth forwards had six points, Carl Soderberg had two goals, Matt Calvert had one, depth goes a long way. The Avalanche now head to Ottawa who are not playing well in their recent games (2-7-1) but also 11-9-4 at home. The Avalanche are 12-11-3 on the road and 2-6-2 in their last ten. They out match the Senators in most if not all areas of the game, goals, goals against, penalty kill, power play. The Avalanche are definitely favorited here and I’d expect a win out of them with how close the race in the Western Conference is right now. Every two points count. Colorado is -1.5 and -185 where Ottawa is +1.5 and +150, I’d go Colorado money line, puck spread too difficult to tell.

Buffalo Sabres vs Calgary Flames

Things are not getting easier for Buffalo at this point, they have been on a complete drought since their 10-game win streak. The Sabres are at the moment out of a wild card spot and slowly throwing their playoff hopes out the window. The Sabres are 3-6-1 in their last ten on a three-game skid, 9-11-3 going up against a Calgary team who is on a five-game win streak, 8-1-1 in their last ten and 15-4-4 at home. I would be completely shocked if Buffalo win, if Buffalo wins this will also probably be the last picks article I write. I am going the house on Calgary tonight. Calgary is -1.5 and -240, Buffalo is +200 and +1.5. Calgary with David Rittich (not confirmed but likely) in net makes me feel better as well.

San Jose Sharks vs Arizona Coyotes

The Sharks have been rolling lately, defeating the Penguins 5-2 Tuesday night and on a seven-game win streak, 9-1-0 in their last ten but 11-9-3 on the road. Where as Arizona is 5-4-1 in their last ten coming off a loss and 8-12-2 at home. The Coyotes are no where near the Sharks skill level but they are also no easy match. They always give teams difficult games, while I like the Sharks here they are coming into this game on a back to back. From San Jose to Arizona is not crazy but it’s a back to back and teams do not perform well in these situations. I am still going San Jose but maybe not the puck spread, just San Jose straight up. Sharks are -155 and Coyotes are +135. Aaron Dell is in net for San Jose and Darcy Kuemper for Arizona (not confirmed).

Boston Bruins vs Philadelphia Flyers

The Bruins are coming into this game off an overtime loss to Montreal at the TD Garden, they need to get back in the win column as things are not easy in that Eastern Conference. The Flyers got a big game from James Van Reimsydk and Nolan Patrick vs Minnesota for their 7-4 win, don’t expect that again. The Bruins are 6-3-1 in their last ten and 10-9-4 on the road, where Philly is 2-7-1 in their last ten and 9-10-3 at home. The Bruins are my choice for tonight, one the road sure but the Flyers fans have given up on the team this year so it is not really much of a “home team advantage”. Bruins will handle the Flyers accordingly, I also could see them covering the puck spread. My risk of the night would be Bruins to cover -1.5 puck spread. They are -165 while Flyers are +135. Bruins all the way.

Edmonton Oilers vs Vancouver Canucks

These teams are separated by zero points, the Oilers have one less game played but they both have 47 points. The Canucks with an even 21-21-5, Edmonton 22-21-3 very close in records and very close for a wild card spot. The Oilers are 4-6-0 in their last ten coming off a big win vs Buffalo the other night. Where Vancouver is 5-4-1 in their last ten coming off a big win vs Florida. The Canucks had two and a half days rest coming into todays game and the Oilers had a day and a half. The Oilers are 10-11-2 on the road vs Vancouver’s 10-9-2 home record. This game means a lot for both teams, as much as the Canucks did not anticipate on being here they still are going to do whatever they can to win. The Oilers are my team for tonight. They are also favored +1.5 goals to start both teams are -110 though. I am going Oilers and riding Mikko Koskinen in net.

Also note I have been on a losing streak myself with picks but feel pretty confident in every game tonight besides Colorado vs Ottawa. Minor set back to a big come back. 5-0 tonight let’s go.