Players who were permanently banned from the NBA

Mar 22, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter (34) controls the ball
Mar 22, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter (34) controls the ball / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

*Updated April, 2024 The Detroit Pistons have talked a lot about drafting the “person, not the player’ as part of their ethos of having a high-character team.

The Pistons can’t afford to take risks on guys with red flags, which is probably why they traded the draft rights to Kevin Porter Jr. who had plenty of them.

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Some fans complained about passing over an obviously talented player because of “character issues” without full knowledge of just how serious these issues are (allegedly). And this moaning got even louder after KPJ dropped 50 points against the Bucks, becoming one of the youngest players to do so.

But fans weren’t seeing what was going on behind the scenes, as Porter Jr. had a slew of trouble and troubling allegations that have all come to light recently.

Porter Jr. was recently arrested for felony assault and strangulation, crimes that could land him in prison for a long time, and if he is found guilty, he will most certainly deserve it, as the details are heinous.

The Rockets are cynically trying to trade Porter Jr. right now, which is not a great look for a league that has already taken heavy criticism for reinstating Miles Bridges.

So the NBA may choose to make an example of Kevin Porter Jr. if these allegations are true, which could include a lifetime ban from the NBA, and when you look at some of the other players who have been permanently banned, it would be fitting, as Porter Jr.’s alleged crimes are far worse.

Players who were permanently banned from the NBA

There were 12 players banned in the 50’s and 60’s, all for some form of gambling or point shaving, including Jack Molinas of the Fort Wayne Pistons who was an All-Star before being banned for betting on Pistons’ games.

Players didn’t make nearly as much money back then and the temptation to pad your wallet with gambling money was too much for some to resist.

*In a recent incident, Jontay Porter was permanently banned for gambling on the NBA and leaking confidential injury information to bettors. The NBA acted harshly, likely to deflect from their own embrace of legalized sports gambling, which they have woven into the fabric of the game. It was only a matter of time before something like this happened and I doubt it will be the last incident, though the NBA is hoping their harsh punishment will deter future problems.

It wasn’t until the 1980’s when we started seeing players banned for the only thing they have been since, which is drug abuse. The league was trying to crack down after a rash of addiction issues in the 70’s and 80’s that claimed plenty of players.

Here’s a list of players who were permanently banned for violating the league’s substance abuse policy:

  • John Drew (Atlanta Hawks, 1986)
  • Eddie Johnson (Seattle SuperSonics, 1987)
  • Chris Washburn (Golden State Warriors, 1989)
  • Roy Tarpley (Dallas Mavericks, 1995)
  • Richard Dumas (Philadelphia 76ers, 1995)
  • OJ Mayo (2016)

The only person banned for life for something other than drugs was the odious Donald Sterling, a racist clown who will go down as the worst owner in NBA history.

I am not trying to downplay drug use (wait, yes I am) but these are issues best dealt with in treatment. The final straw for OJ Mayo was testing positive for marijuana, a substance that is now legal in many US States and no longer tested for by the NBA.

Many of these people weren’t even charged criminally for anything, so if they were banned for life for failing drug and alcohol tests, surely someone who broke a woman’s neck during a domestic violence incident (allegedly) and has a long history of incidents like Kevin Porter Jr. will get the same treatment. *Update: KPJ pled guilty to a lesser charge to avoid jail time and has recently signed to play in Greece.

The league already allowed Miles Bridges back in after all of his troubling behavior

The NBA really needs to take a hard look in the mirror, as you can’t support women out of one side of your mouth then find ways to excuse their abusers out of the other. I expect we will see a permanent suspension for KPJ if he is found guilty, in which case he’ll likely be in prison and it won’t matter anyway.

But this is a good chance for the league to show that they care more about the health and safety of women than some guy snorting coke or smoking weed.

Next. 12 players the Pistons signed who were past their prime. dark