Embry, a consultant for the Toronto Raptors, is prohibited from discussing any lockout. But in his book, “The Inside Game: Race, Power and Politics in the NBA,” he wrote about 1998-99 season: “Whatever teams were in the best shape would definitely have an advantage in the short schedule. We were not one of them. We were all disappointed in Shawn’s physical condition. With the money we were paying him, we had every reason to expect him to stay in shape. It was not as if he could not afford to hire people to help him do that. “The Cleveland Clinic nutritionist put him on a diet, but Shawn did not have the discipline to adhere to it. We even offered to have a chef go to his house and prepare meals for him. … I told Shawn the same thing I told Mel Turpin years ago, ‘I don’t want anyone playing for me that weighs more than me.’ That did not work either.”
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Turpin’s alma mater was going through a scandal involving its basketball team at the time and I casually asked if he witnessed any rule-breaking during his four seasons as one of Kentucky’s star players. Not for a story. Just because I was curious. Turpin’s eyes widened and he innocently replied, “Oh, no. My job only payed $80 an hour … and I had to go.” I enjoyed covering Turpin during his season with the Jazz. He was a nice guy. Always smiling. Always upbeat. Always willing to talk to reporters, who were treated with respect. His passing is a sad moment in Jazz history.
Turpin battled weight problems throughout his career and earned the nickname “Dinner Bell Mel.” He once told me there was a time at Kentucky when his coaches stationed somebody outside his apartment — a student manager, maybe — to make sure he didn’t leave for a late-night run to McDonald’s or order a pizza. Laughing, Turpin said he often avoided his coaches’ wrath by calling for a pizza and arranging with the delivery man to get it through an open window. Another time, I had finished an interview with Turpin for a story and we were just visiting — as players and reporters often did in those days.
The Fayette County coroner’s office said Friday that former University of Kentucky basketball star Melvin Turpin died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Coroner Gary Ginn said he did not plan to publicly release other details surrounding Turpin’s death. Turpin’s family members said they remain mystified by the 49-year-old’s death. On Friday, Turpin’s niece, Rosalind Turpin, questioned whether the coroner’s report was correct. She said investigators told her that Turpin shot himself in the chest. “I just don’t believe that at all,” Rosalind Turpin said. “I think there’s more to it.” Read more: http://www.kentucky.com/2010/07/10/1342616/ex-wildcat-turpin-died-of-gunshot.html#ixzz0tHKEobAM
Ted Leonsis: In sad news, former Bullet Mel Turpin has died. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and community. He was a star player at the University of Kentucky, and played for our team for several years. He was a productive NBA player. He will be missed. So sad the circumstances here.
Mel Turpin, a Cleveland Cavaliers center for three seasons after becoming an All-American at the University of Kentucky, committed suicide Thursday, authorities said. He was 49. Police and the coroner were called to his North Lexington house Thursday afternoon on a personal injury call. They found Turpin dead.
Coroner Gary Ginn says that Turpin had committed suicide, but would not say how. He also would not say whether Turpin left behind a suicide note. Neighbor Amanda McFadden said Turpin always seemed happy. “He never looked upset. He kept a smile on his face, just a good person,” she said.