Top 10 Players Blacklisted From The NBA
VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio
WRITTEN BY: Whitney Wilson
These athletes broke the rules and paid the price. For this list, we'll be looking at players banned from playing in the National Basketball Association due to various rules violations. Our countdown includes Roger Brown, O.J. Mayo, Roy Tarpley, and more!
Top 10 Players Blacklisted From The NBA
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Players Blacklisted From The NBA.
For this list, we’ll be looking at players banned from playing in the National Basketball Association due to various rules violations. We are only looking at players so owners like Donald Sterling will not be discussed today.
What’s the craziest basketball-related scandal you know about? Be sure to share with us in the comments below.
#10: Roger Brown
This talented athlete is an unfortunate case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. As a high school basketball star, Brown was signed to play for the University of Dayton. Unfortunately, his career stopped before it even started when it was revealed that Brown knew gambler and fellow basketball player Jack Molinas. Of course, we will visit Molinas later on this list, as simply knowing him was enough to get Brown banned from playing for both the NCAA and NBA. Thankfully, Brown was able to play in the ABA, where he was a three-time champion. Although the NBA later reinstated Brown, he ultimately chose to not play in the league. Brown was posthumously inducted in the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2013.
#9: Alex Groza
This player had the makings of an all-time great. As a student athlete at Kentucky, Groza was the captain of the school’s Fabulous Five, winning both the 1948 and 1949 NCAA Men’s Championships. During his collegiate career, Groza appeared on the 1948 U.S. Olympic basketball team, where he was the leading scorer on the gold-winning squad. Naturally, Groza was the number one pick in the 1949 Draft and played for the Indianapolis Olympians, but his career ended only two years later. Groza was implicated in a point-shaving scandal and was banned for life from the NBA. As we will discuss in our next entry, Groza’s brother-in-arms was also banned from the league due to the scandal.
#8: Ralph Beard
Like Groza, Beard was a Kentucky Wildcat turned Indianapolis Olympian who had the potential to be an all-time great player in the sport of basketball. Beard’s childhood was full of financial hardships, with his entire family depending on his mother’s meager earnings. When Beard became a college superstar at Kentucky, he believed he could help his family’s financial situation. Beard was a member of the back-to-back NCAA Champions squad and won a gold medal at the 1948 Olympics. Sadly, despite how incredible these feats were, they could not help pay the bills. Beard admitted to taking money from gamblers but denied actually shaving points during games. Nevertheless, he was banned from the NBA for life along with his college and professional teammate Groza.
#7: John Drew
This player was a force to be reckoned with during his 11 seasons in the NBA. Drew was a two-time All Star and among the top ten points leaders in the league two years in a row. Sadly, off the court, Drew battled cocaine addiction, which led him to miss nearly half the 1982-83 season when he was in a rehabilitation program. Drew relapsed only a few years later and was waived by the Utah Jazz. Despite not being signed to a team at the time, commissioner David Stern banned Drew for a season and a half in 1986. Although Drew was the first player to be banned from the NBA due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy, he definitely wasn’t the last.
#6: O.J. Mayo
This player started out his career with a lot of promise. As the third pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Mayo had a great rookie season and was even the runner-up for Rookie of the Year Award. Unfortunately, in the following years, Mayo started showing bizarre behavior outside of games, fighting with teammates and showing up late for shootarounds. Mayo was suspended for 10 games in 2010 after he tested positive for a banned substance. Injuries and conditioning issues further impacted his career. In 2016, Mayo was suspended from the NBA due to a drug violation. Although he was eligible for reinstatement during the 2018-19 season, Mayo had moved on to playing overseas.
#5: Tyreke Evans
Like many others on this list, Evans started his career with promise but ran into issues with banned substances. During his one-year college career, he found success at the University of Memphis, which led to 19-year-old Evans being the fourth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. After a dynamite first year in the league, Evans was named the Rookie of the Year in 2010. Unfortunately, injuries plagued his next few seasons, and Evans was not able to recreate his rookie year success. After bouncing around various teams, Evans was banned from the NBA in 2019 for violating the league’s anti-drug policies. Evans was eligible for reinstatement in 2022, but he was waived from the G League’s Wisconsin Herd after a week on the team.
#4: Jack Molinas
You might remember this name from earlier in the video. As a college athlete, Molinas was the captain of Columbia University’s basketball squad and set the school’s record for highest number of points scored in a game. After being picked third in the 1953 NBA Draft, Molinas enjoyed success on the Fort Wayne Pistons and was selected for the 1954 NBA All-Star Game. Unfortunately, before he could officially become an All-Star, Molinas was permanently banned from the NBA for betting on Pistons games. Although he was banned from the NBA, Molinas went on to play in the Eastern Professional Basketball League from 1954 to 1962.
#3: Richard Dumas
This athlete was suspended before he even played a second of professional basketball. After being selected at the 46th spot in the 1991 NBA Draft, Dumas was set to play for the Phoenix Suns. However, Dumas was suspended before the season even started for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Dumas was reinstated during the 1992–93 season and appeared with the Suns in the NBA Finals. After retiring from professional basketball in 2003, Dumas faced legal issues. He was arrested for eight felony charges of Organized Retail Theft in 2013. Dumas pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years of probation.
#2: Chris Washburn
This athletic center was a controversial figure before he even laced up his shoes for an NBA game. As a player at N.C. State, Washburn was caught stealing a stereo, which put a mark on his permanent record early. Washburn entered the NBA as the third overall pick in the 1986 Draft. Unfortunately, he developed injuries and health problems almost immediately, and he checked into a rehabilitation clinic in 1987 in an attempt to overcome his cocaine addiction. Sadly, this attempt was ineffective, and Washburn was permanently banned from the NBA in 1989 after failing three drug tests in as many years. Washburn’s addiction wreaked havoc on his life for years, but he thankfully achieved sobriety in 2000.
#1: Roy Tarpley
As the former Big Ten Player of the Year, Tarpley was a top prospect going into the 1986 NBA Draft. After he was picked at number six by the Mavericks, Tarpley continued to rack up accolades and helped the Mavs go deep in the 1988 Playoffs. Off the court, however, Tarpley suffered from alcohol addiction. Tarpley was arrested for driving while intoxicated twice in less than two years. He violated the NBA’s anti-drug policy yet again, which led to a temporary suspension from the league. After his return in 1994, Tarpley avoided trouble until the following year, when he was again caught violating the league’s policies. This time, the suspension was permanent, and Tarpley’s NBA career ended less than a decade after it began.