Mitchell Wiggins didn't have to wonder what thoughts raced through Roy Tarpley's mind when the Mavericks forward was banned from the NBA four days ago.

He knew."It's sad what he's going to have to go through," said Wiggins, who was kicked out of the league in 1987 after failing a drug test. "The embarrassment. The humiliation.

"But it will come to a point that he will be relieved somewhat that he was able to get away from the game. It will give him a chance to regroup and get everything together, get his priorities in order."

Wiggins, who was with the Houston Rockets when he tested positive for cocaine, had two years away from the NBA to get his priorities in order. He enrolled in a rehabilitation program. He stayed in shape by playing in the Continental Basketball Association.

Tarpley will have to travel a similar road to return to the NBA.

"It's going to be a tremendous test for him, not only to learn himself over again but to love himself," said Wiggins, who was reinstated in '89 and now plays for the Philadelphia 76ers. "Life is going to be hell for a while. The next couple of years are a test on how bad he wants it, how bad he wants life and how bad he wants to stay clean."

It will be at least two years before Tarpley is able to hop up and down an NBA court. The odds are against him.