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MAVS WARY ABOUT TARPLEY’S RETURN

SHARE MAVS WARY ABOUT TARPLEY’S RETURN

Roy Tarpley met with the Dallas Mavericks coaching staff Saturday morning, apologized to his teammates for missing practice the day before, worked out with the team and made a statement to the media trying to explain his actions.

It was a hectic day for the man who is one strike away from watching his NBA career slip away under the league's anti-drug program. But Tarpley wasn't finished. On his way out of the gym to talk to owner Donald Carter, Tarpley stopped to say a few words to guard Derek Harper."This is just one little thing that was blown out of proportion," Tarpley said of his absence from Friday's practice. "It's getting old. Real old. . . .Don't worry. I'll be there for you. OK. I'll be there."

Some of his teammates aren't so sure. They found it difficult to greet Tarpley's declaration without a trace of skepticism. Several players stressed that while they still support Tarpley, they wonder if he will be able to play and help the team this season. In a players-only meeting, Tarpley was told in no uncertain terms that it was time for him to grow up and show some responsibility.

Center James Donaldson described the tone of the meeting with Tarpley this way: "Basically, enough is enough. Just tell us what happened, and we'll get on with practice. Don't keep putting the team through these things."

This incident began to fester Thursday when Tarpley was told his mandatory weightlifting session would be at 1 p.m. Friday. Special assignments coach Clifford Ray said Tarpley, who had hoped to attend a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous at that time Friday, "blew up" and became very upset.

No one heard from Tarpley until 7:15 p.m. Friday when he called the Mavericks front office to let them know he was at his mother's house.

Tarpley told the players he overslept Friday morning, making himself late for practice. He said he decided to "crawl into my shell because I was a little afraid" instead of calling to let anyone know what happened.

"Be mature enough to call in and let us know if you don't feel like coming to practice or overslept, just like the rest of us do," Donaldson said. "If you don't feel like coming, call in, say you're going to be late, pay the fine and pay the consequences.