This is a topic that comes at a depressive state for most, but needed information as well. We always can think of players who have had their greatness cut down by injury. Examples would be: Grant Hill, Anfernee Hardaway, Sam Bowie and most relevant today in Greg Oden. There however, is the other side, in which the mental aspects of life, not the physical have hampered a player from greatness.
The NBA Drug Act was implemented in 1983 to try and deal with the rampant Cocaine use that had taken over much of the players in the association. That can almost be said for the large amount of players that use Marijuana in today's game was similar to the use of blow back in the late 70's and 80's.
With Udonis Haslem being recently indicted for an overblown Marijuana use charge, it brings about a common occurrence in the league's past.
The players specified here on the list aren't going to make the Top 5 list of All-Time players, that wouldn't be reasonable. These are guys who, because of some form of drug addiction, saw their careers fall apart. All five of them had great talent and for a period of time showed it on the court. They had the potential to have Hall of Fame careers, but just couldn't bring it all together.
There can be other players argued for on this list, but I felt these five had the most talent at their position.
Michael Beasley: He has dealt with drug and alcohol issues, but has been doing his best to get treatment for his problems. This former Kansas State Wildcat looks to Minnesota for a new start.
Rashard Lewis: This past season he was suspended for the start of the season for using Performance Enhancing Drugs. It would not be worth noting except for I didn't see the drugs making him bigger or helping his game in any way.
Vin Baker: Baker dealt with Depression throughout his career and went to the bottle to try and ease the pain. He was a solid and underrated All-Star in Milwaukee and had times in which he played well in Seattle.
John Lucas: The former Guard played fourteen years in the league including playing on the Rockets team that made the 1986 NBA Finals. His usage of Cocaine would have him out of the league shortly.
Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire: They make the list more for the hilarity that came from their stop on the roads as was cited from the Dave Chapelle Show. I don't believe Marijuana use had much of a difference on their playing abilities during their careers. They were just a couple amongst the many using Marijuana.
Chris Anderson: "Birdman" as they call him was actually suspended from the league for his various different drug uses. I actually at the time just thought he had suffered a Season ending injury that kept him out. I was wrong, but he was right in pulling his game back together and again is playing at a high level.
Chris Washburn: Drugs ended his career before he could get it started for the Golden State Warriors.
Roy Tarpley is a player that many have forgotten about over the years. Tarpley won Big Ten Player of the Year his final season at the University of Michigan. He would follow up this successful College season by making the All-Rookie Team and then winning the 1988 Sixth Man of the Year Award. He was a bruising and tough inside presence.
His career was steamrolling towards success until 1991 when he was banned from the NBA for his drug use. He would get another chance to try and resurrect his career in 1995, but would be removed the same year for Alcohal related issues. His former coach, Richie Adubato, believed Tarpley could have been one of the greats.
The "Reignman" and the "Glove" better known as Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton led the Sonics to the 1996 NBA Finals. Everyone it seems, knows about the decline and joke that Kemp's career became. To those who have forgotten, he actually was a great player in Seattle. To an extent he was pretty good in Cleveland as well. His decline came with his trade to Portland.
Under mounting issues of stress whether focusing on his multiple kids in different areas or drug usage, he was and is dealing with adversity in his life. I always wanted to see Kemp come back and try to resurrect his career after his one shameful year in Orlando and time in Portland, but it never happened.
Supposedly, he was going to return with the Dallas Mavericks, but the Devil David Stern would not allow the transaction to follow through. It seems the Shawn Kemp for Vin Baker trade (Along with Terrell Brandon) was the beginning of the end for both players in the limelight.
Many must be wondering why a relatively unknown, at least today in Richard Dumas would make the list. If you watched the 1992-93 NBA season, you would know he deserves this spot.
The aforementioned John Lucas, Coach of the Spurs at the time (1993), was willing to ship out Dennis Rodman for a chance at acquiring Dumas. That was how much upside Dumas had at the time. He had just finished helping Charles Barkley and the Suns make the 1993 NBA Finals as the Suns starting Small Forward.
He dealt with drug abuse from the age of 12, and it showed in his Draft stock as he wasn't chose until the 46th pick of the 1991 NBA Draft. When he did get a chance to show his skills thoguh, he played at a great level. During his rookie year, he was able to average 15.8 Points Per Game and shot over 52% from the field. One must look at the incredible upside that was in his future as the point of emphasis in Dumas' career.
A career that finished with the 76ers and only lasted three seasons.
Thompson was the First Overall Pick in the 1975 NBA Draft for the Atlanta Hawks and the First Overall in the ABA Draft for the Denver Nuggets. He would go ahead with the Denver Nuggets. He would make the All-Star Game four times and in a last ditch effort to take the scoring title from George Gervin one season, he chipped in 73 points against the Detroit Pistons. Alas, for all his hard work he would still lose the title as George Gervin would put in 64 points that night to take the title.
The fact that Michael Jordan had him speak for his presentation into the Hall of Fame cannot be overlooked. Before his drug addictions this man could ball. He just unfortunately, always was in second. He took second to Julius Erving in the initial infamous Slam Dunk Challenge to go with being second in the Scoring title race.
Thompson dealt with cocaine and alcohol abuse as they would go hand in hand with his injuries. This included his infamous fall down the stairs of Studio 54 in which he would badly injure his knee. He was a scoring machine, but an attempt at restarting his career in Seattle just got rained out.
This might be the most painful downfall because of the era in which he played. Richardson was coming out of the University of Montana and began his career one year before Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. He played during the Golden Age of Professional Basketball and when fully there, he could play with the best of them. Like Len Bias, one can only wonder how successful he could have become.
Michael Ray led the Nets in a Playoff shocking series clincher over the defending champion 76ers as his crowning achievement. In the series deciding fifth game, he put up a modest 24 points. Not bad, but it was his 6 steals that were a decisive blow against Philly. Richardson's 1979-1980 season amounted out to the third highest steals season in NBA history (265 steals).
It just would have been nice if he could have stayed clean and sober. Seeing him and Isaiah Thomas go at it for best point guard in the Eastern Conference during the 80's would have been awesome.