When it comes to Collegiate/Professional Basketball, there is no sadder story than that of Maryland Terrapins Legend Len Bias. We’ve all heard the comparisons, Bias was a bigger Jordan (6’8, 210 lbs) with a sweeter jumpshot. Head-to-head, Bias and Jordan had several epic matchups as their respective Terrapins and Tar Heels would vie for ACC supremacy. Len Bias would go on to be selected #2 in the 1986 NBA Draft by the World Champion Boston Celtics. How Red Auerbach was able to pull off that coup has the makings of legend. Imagining Bias with Bird, Mchale, Dennis Johnson and company is absolutely scary.
On paper, the trajectory of the NBA landscape could’ve forever been shifted. Would Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls sport a perfect 6/6 in the NBA Finals? Would the Celtics have had to wait 22 Years for Banner 17? I try to refrain from getting caught up in What ifs? However, Bias + The Celtics Core, history in my opinion was forever changed when Bias died on June 19th, 1986.
In the 70’s and 80’s, drugs were seemingly intertwined with sports, particularly the NBA. Bias’s alleged drug use was known to his closest friends. The story turned tragic due to the nature of his death, dying a mere few days after being drafted by the winningest franchise in pro basketball. Bias was never able to grace an NBA hardwood. Never able to assume his place as Jordan’s only true NBA rival. He was never to be handed the torch from Larry Bird, and bridge the Bird and Pierce eras. All of these narratives are what makes the Len Bias story the most tragic in NBA history. Close your eyes; imagine Larry Bird pushing the break with Len Bias and Kevin Mchale running the floor with him. Scary sight right? Those are the exact moments that basketball fans were robbed of.
Rest in Peace, Leonard Kevin Bias.