Roy Tarpley Returns, This Time to Sue the Dallas Mavericks

Categories: Sports

There are two words no more heartbreaking to Dallas Mavericks fans than "Roy" and "Tarpley." Exactly two decades ago, he was named to the NBA's All-Rookie team -- while, at the same time, he was being ordered to enter the league's rehab center for chemical abuse. It was the first time he was received such a punishment; it would not be the last, not by a long shot.

The forward-center was going to be the man around whom a great franchise would be built -- our Michael Jordan, our can't-miss Hall of Famer. Instead, he brought the Mavericks of the late 1980s to its knees, and though the team tried repeatedly to keep him straight and brought him back in 1994 after a brief sojourn to Greece, he broke time and again -- to the point where, in the course of a few months in the late 1990s, he was arrested three times by Dallas police -- all on charges of beating his then-23-year-old girlfriend.

Yesterday in federal court in Houston, the 42-year-old Roy Tarpley repaid his old team by suing the Dallas Mavericks and the NBA, claiming they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to reinstate him to the league in 2003. Tarpley was banned for life from the NBA in 1995 for his myriad violations of the league's substance abuse policies. But, says his lawsuit, "Tarpley is a qualified individual with a disability within the meaning of the ADA, in that he has a disability in the form of past drug and alcohol abuse, which substantially limits at least one of his major life activities."

Reports the Associated Press:

In July 2006, Tarpley filed a charge of discrimination against the NBA with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In May, the EEOC sided with the player, ruling the NBA and the Mavericks violated the disabilities act by failing to reinstate Tarpley, who has passed all drug tests he's taken in the last four years.

"I really didn't want to do this, but they left me no choice. We tried to work things out. I applied for reinstatement, and they just swept it under the rug," Tarpley told Houston television station KRIV, which first reported the lawsuit.


There's a rather fascinating essay, written earlier this summer, about the EEOC decision and how it relates to the ADA here. So Roy Tarpley is back. Again. Sometimes it feels as though he never left. --Robert Wilonsky

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