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Tarpley: Stardom Brought Drugs : Pro basketball: Banned NBA player says money and freedom led him to cocaine addiction.

January 06, 1992|From Associated Press

DALLAS — Former Dallas Maverick forward Roy Tarpley says the money and pressures involved in being a basketball star led him to alcohol and drugs and, ultimately, a lifetime ban from the NBA.

Tarpley, who lives in a north Dallas townhouse when he's not in a Houston drug rehabilitation center, made his first public statement since the banishment in Sunday's Dallas Morning News.

He was banned for refusing to take a drug test Oct. 16.

"In the end, just say that I tried to be hip, slick and cool and get high on the sly," Tarpley, 27, said. "That's all you have to know about why I am where I am."

The ban ended Tarpley's five-year career with the Mavericks.

He was frequently brilliant on the court, but arrests for drunken driving and brushes with the league's substance abuse policy frequently kept him out of action.

Tarpley that alcohol was not a problem in college at Michigan.

"Sure, I'd go to fraternity parties," he said. "I was drinking and stuff. Everybody drinks in college. My problem is that I'm a cocaine addict. That's my problem, cocaine. My biggest problem is that Roy did what Roy wanted to do."

His problems worsened in the NBA with more freedom and a lucrative contract, he said.

"I guess once I got hold of a lot of money, I thought I could party, stop and do the job," Tarpley said. "It didn't work out that way. I just kept partying. As soon as I got hold of money, my decision-making went all out of whack."

Tarpley's wife, Dawn, said the source of his problems was success. "What I always interpreted it to mean was that he thought people expected more and more from him," his wife said. "The more he gave, the more they wanted.

"When he isn't playing, like now, no one bothers him. Not family. Not so-called friends, no one. I think that makes him happiest."

Tarpley is eligible to apply for NBA reinstatement after the start of the 1993-94 season.

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