Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world, while NBA is one of the most-watched sporting events. Every aspiring basketball player dreams of playing in NBA one day. Those who achieved outstanding stats in college basketball will undoubtedly get selected in the NBA Draft. NBA in return gives you name, fame, and money. There are many legendary names who made fortune and fame playing basketball.
However, there are several factors that could affect their professional career. Like there are two sides of a coin, an athletes’ temper, greed, negligence, or substance abuse could halt their career. NBA penalizes those players who do not follow NBA rules. Players could face disciplinary actions from the NBA for on-court incidents that do not conform to standards of fair play, that do not comply with federal or state laws, and conduct that is detrimental to the game of basketball or the league. A player could be suspended for several games and fined for their actions. Worse in the worse cases, a player could be banned from playing in NBA ever again.
There are several NBA players who have faced suspensions or fines for their actions. Four-time NBA All-Star Connie Hawkins was initially banned from NBA for his potential involvement in a point-shaving scandal while a student at the University of Iowa. He later overturned the ban through litigation and later went on to become an NBA star. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. Hawkins is only an example, there is a list of a significant number of NBA players who faced a ban from the NBA. Some faced short-term suspensions, some faced a significant number of game bans and some of them faced a permanent ban. Some of the players’ permanent ban was later reinstated as a result of the league’s 1983 anti-drug policy. Most of the players who faced a permanent ban from the NBA are those involved in the 1951 NCAA point-shaving scandal. Here is the list of NBA players banned from the NBA.
1. Ralph Beard
Two-time NCAA champion, Ralph Beard was permanently banned for life from NBA for taking bribes as part of the 1951 NCAA point-shaving scandal. Most of the basketball players involved in the NCAA point-shaving scandal were given a permanent ban from playing in the NBA. Beard and his former teammates Alex Groza and Dale Barnstable pleaded guilty to the charge and were eventually banned for life from the NBA. He admitted that he took $700 to shave points while playing in college but denied that he had ever shaved points in the game. Prior to his ban, he played two seasons for the Indianapolis Olympians. Beard who was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 1985 died in 2007.
2. Alex Groza
Another Indianapolis Olympians star, Alex Groza also faced a life ban from NBA for his involvement in the 1951 NCAA point-shaving scandal. The two-time NCAA champion with the Kentucky Wildcats, Groza was a two-time All-NBA before being banned from NBA. He was the leading scorer on the gold medal-winning 1948 US Olympic basketball team.
3. Dale Barnstable
Dale Barnstable is the third Kentucky Wildcats who was banned for life from NBA for his involvement in the 1951 NCAA point-shaving scandal. Along with, Ralph Beard and Alex Groza pleaded guilty of taking money. He allegedly took $500 to shave points in a National Invitation Tournament game in 1949. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the 1950 NBA Draft.
4. Norm Mager
One time NCAA champion, Norm Mager was banned from NBA for life as a result of shaving points while playing in college. He was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1950 NBA Draft and played in the 1950-51 season. However, his NBA career came to an end in 1951 in the wake of the CCNY Point Shaving Scandal. He was one of many CCNY players involved in the scandal.
5. Alvin Roth
Alvin Roth is the next CCNY player who faced a permanent ban for his involvement in the CCNY point-shaving scandal. In exchange for suspending his jail sentence, Roth agreed to serve in the US Army. He later went back to CCNY to earn his business degree, then moved to the suburbs of New York City to sell insurance.
6. Gene Melchiorre
Gene Melchiorre is another CCNY player involved in the 1951 NCAA point-shaving scandal. He was drafted first overall by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1951 NBA Draft. However, he never got a chance to play an NBA game due to his involvement in the point-shaving scandal he was involved in while playing in college. He was banned for life from NBA. He was sentenced to three years in prison. However, he was given suspended sentences after his cooperation with the authorities. He worked several jobs before starting his own trucking firm. The three-time first-team All-MVC, Melchiorre died in 2019.
7. Bill Spivey
Bill Spivey was part of the Kentucky Wildcats that won the NCAA championship in 1951. He was voted the Most Outstanding Player of the event as well. However, he was dragged into the 1951 NCAA point-shaving scandal. He was the only implicated player to deny the allegations of point shaving. The charges against him were dropped after the trial but was eventually banned from NBA. He won a lawsuit against the NBA and NBA after league president Maurice Podoloff settled for $10,000. He later played professional basketball in various minor league teams, winning 3 EBA championships before retiring in 1968.
After retirement, he became a businessman.
8. Ed Warner
Ed Warner was one of the 32 players involved in the 1951 NCAA point-shaving scandal. A CCNY forward was part of the team that won the NCAA championship and NIT championship in 1950. He was also named the NIT MVP. For his involvement in point-shaving scandal, he was permanently banned from NBA and was sentenced to six months to serve in prison. He returned to basketball and played in EBA. However, he once again served in prison for attempting to sell heroin. He died in 2002.
9. Sherman White
Sherman White, LIU Sharks forward was another player involved in the 1951 NCAA point-shaving scandal. For his involvement in the scandal, he was banned for life from NBA and sentenced to serve 12 months in prison. The Haggerty Award winner White served 8 months and 24 days in Rikers Island. LIU shut down its entire athletic program from 1951 to 1957 as a result of the scandal. He never played in NBA. After serving his sentence, he played in the Eastern Professional Basketball League and sold storm windows, automobiles, and liquor. He died in 2011.
10. Jack Molinas
The Fort Wayne Pistons star, Jack Molinas was banned for life from NBA after he was involved in betting on his own team while playing in college. The Columbian Lions forward Molinas was drafted 3rd overall by the Pistons in the 1953 NBA Draft. He played 32 games for Pistons before he was banned for wagering on Pistons games. He later played in the minor leagues. He was named EBA MVP in 1956. He later obtained a law degree from the Brooklyn Law School.
Molinas became the central figure in the 1961 point-shaving scandal. He was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison. He was released on parole after serving 5 years in prison. He was killed in 1975 awaiting to stand trial on interstate shipment of pornography charges.
11. Roger Brown
Indiana Pacers legend, Roger Brown who won 3 ABA championships for the Pacers in 1970, 1972, and 1973 was another key figure involved in gambling or point shaving. Due to his association with Jack Molinas, he was banned permanently from NBA. Due to the ban, he played in ABA for several teams. While Playing for Indiana Pacers, he won 3 ABA Championships.
NBA later reinstated Brown but he never played in the league. For his contribution to the Indiana Pacers, his shirt No. 35 was retired. He died of colon cancer in 1997 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. He was considered one of the greatest players to never play in the NBA by Reggie Miller.
12. John Drew
Two-time NBA All-Star, John Drew is one of the earliest victims of the drug policy instituted by the NBA. Drew was drafted 25th overall in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. However, his substance abuse during his professional career affected his career. He battled cocaine addiction and spent several weeks in rehab, missing a significant number of games. He was named Comeback Player of the Year after the 1983-84 season. However, he relapsed. He became the first player to be banned by NBA commissioner David Stern for multiple violations of the league’s new substance abuse policy. Before the ban, he was arrested on several occasions for cocaine possession, sale, or purchase.
13. Chris Washburn
Chris Washburn is another NBA player to face the ban for substance abuse. He received a permanent ban from NBA in 1989 after he failed three drug tests in 3 years. He was drafted 3rd overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 1986 NBA Draft. He played 2 seasons in NBA, first with the Warriors and second with the Atlanta Hawks before the ban. He is considered as one of the biggest busts in NBA draft history. He later played basketball in minor leagues for few years.
14. Roy Tarpley
The 1988 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award winner Roy Tarpley is another NBA player to face a permanent ban for substance abuse. He was banned from the NBA because of his drug and alcohol abuse. Having being drafted 7th overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1986 NBA Draft, he was named in NBA All-Rookie Team in 1987. He was first suspended by the NBA in 1989 after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated and resisted arrest. He was arrested again for WDI in 1991 and faced another suspension. He was eventually banned from NBA following a third violation. He briefly returned to NBA in 1994 but was banned permanently in 1995, for using alcohol and violating the terms of a court-imposed personal aftercare program. He later went on to play in various leagues in Europe, as well as in CBA.
He died of liver failure in 2015.
15. Richard Dumas
After a series of temporary suspensions for substance abuse, Richard Dumas, son of former ABA player, Rich Dumas, was permanently banned from NBA. He was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the 1991 NBA Draft. He was first briefly suspended in 1991 for violating NBA’s substance abuse policy. During the suspension, he played basketball in Israel. He returned to the Suns to make his NBA debut, earning NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors. He was suspended indefinitely after he tested positive for a banned substance and failed to participate in a drug rehabilitation program in 1993. He was reinstated in 1995 and returned to the Suns. He then played for the Philadelphia 76ers as his final NBA season. He was banned for life after he violated a clause in his contract that prohibited him from consuming alcohol. He then played professional basketball overseas in Greece and in Poland. He also played in the USBL before retiring in 2003.
In 2013, he was arrested on eight felony charges of alleged Organized Retail Theft. He pleaded guilty to theft and sentenced under a plea agreement with prosecutors to three years of probation. He stole about $800 worth of merchandise from Luke Air Force Base store while working with a janitorial service.
16. O. J. Mayo
The recipient of the 2007 Bill Evans Award, O. J. Mayo earned All-Pac-10 first teams honors, playing for USC. The NBA All-Rookie First Team honoree, Mayo was drafted 3rd overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2008 NBA Draft and was traded to the Grizzlies. He played fours NBA season with Memphis Grizzlies from 2008 to 2012. He was suspended for 10 games after he tested positive for a banned steroid (DHEA) in 2011. He then signed with Dallas Mavericks in 2012 and then Milwaukee Bucks in 2013. He was permanently banned from NBA in 2016 after violating the league’s anti-drug program.
He then pursued a professional basketball career in Puerto Rico. He also played in Taiwan. He currently plays for Liaoning Flying Leopards in China.
17. Tyreke Evans
The 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year and the NBA All-Rookie First Team honoree, Tyreke Evans had a successful NBA career until he was banned from NBA for life for violating the terms of the league’s anti-drug program in 2019. Having being named Conference USA Tournament MVP as well as Conference USA Freshman of the Year, Evans was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the 2009 NBA Draft. He played for the Kings until 2013 before being traded to the Pelicans. He returned to the Kings in 2017. He later played for Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers before being dismissed from NBA. He has a chance of coming back to the NBA as he is eligible to apply for reinstatement in 2021.
There are some players who were banned from NBA but were later reinstated. Connie Hawkins, Michael Ray Richardson, Lewis Lloyd, Mitchell Wiggins, Duane Washington, Stanley Roberts, and Chris Andersen were some of the players who were first permanently banned from the NBA but were later reinstated. There is also a significant number of NBA players who faced a significant suspension for a notable number of games or time period.