Jamaal Lee Tinsley is a former professional basketball player from the USA who played as a point guard. Tinsley began playing at the famous Rucker Park in New York City. Known to throw up famous players, Tinsley followed in their footsteps and was known there as “Mel Mel the Abuser”. Although Tinsley never played in any high school formats, after dropping out, he still managed to get into Mount San Jacinto College.
In the two seasons that Tinsley spent at MSJC, he was named the Foothill Conference MVP in both years as he led the team in steals and assists. Tinsley got in a transfer to Iowa State where he could play in the NCAA championships. In both his years at the college, Tinsley was phenomenal as he took the team to consecutive Big 12 Conference titles. In his junior year, he led the Cyclones to the Elite Eight however, in 2001 they were upset in the very first round despite being seeded 2nd.
Tinsley, though, did manage to win the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year title and was also named to the Second Team, All American.
In the 2001 NBA Draft, Tinsley was picked at 27th overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies. However, on draft night itself, he was sent out to the Atlanta Hawks first and then to the Indiana Pacers. With 9.4 points per game and 8.1 assists, Tinsley firmly placed himself into the starting point guard slot under his coach, Isiah Thomas. His performances got him into the second team of the All-NBA Rookie Team at the 2001-02 All Star Weekend.
In his second season, he played 73 games and stayed at the helm of the team despite a drop in the numbers. His averages dropped to 7.8 points per game while his assists came down to 7.5 per game.
After Rick Carlisle took over the coaching job, veteran Kenny Anderson was pushed up to the starting spot and Anthony Johnson became the backup, pushing Tinsley into the background. It took injuries to both the point guards to give Tinsley his spot back and it was almost the chance that he needed and led the Pacers to the finals of the Eastern Conference.
In 2004-05, Tinsley was out injured for a major part of the season and despite not playing in the initial part of the playoff series against the Boston Celtics, he came back for Game 5, helping the team win. After another sober year, Tinsley was facing injury trouble in 2007-08 and could only appear 39 times. However, in that period, he did manage to make career-high figures in assists with 8.4 per game.
In 2008-09, T. J. Ford replaced Tinsley at the point guard position and Tinsley was barred from attending team practices or even games as the franchise was looking to trade him out that year. Tinsley, who has not seen any action through the season, requested the franchise to buy out his contract and release him. The team refused to do so as they are looking for a trade however, the NBA Players’ Association has already filed a grievance against the Pacers, forcing them to buy out his contract or waive him off, making him a free agent.
In November of 2009, Tinsley finally returned to full-time action having signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. He played 38 games for the Grizzlies but started just one, playing just 15.5 minutes per game on his way back to returning to fitness and acclimatizing to the NBA’s pace and power again.