“During my years as an ACC coach, the two most dominant players we’ve faced were Michael Jordan and Len Bias,” Coach K
It’s a testament to the person that Len Bias was, and his tragic, shocking, story, that 27 years after his death people still go crazy over the guy. Everyone knows the gory details by now. Two days after being drafted second overall by the Boston Celtics out of College Park, he died of a cocaine overdose that shocked the sporting world and resulted in a ton of laws being enacted that brought the hammer down on drug use. He was a McDonald’s All-American, an absolute legend in the state of Maryland, a community leader, you name it. Bias was such a great guy that got caught up in a terrible situation, that his death is still so hard to forget.
It says something about Bias’ legacy that most of his fans, myself included, weren’t even born when he was jabbing it out with Michael Jordan on a college floor. His impact on the game had just as much to do with his play on the court as it did his horrific fall from grace, and it’s why we’ll always remember him. Imagining a “what if” scenario of someone like LeBron James, who had all the hype in the world surrounding his high school career before entering into the NBA, never actually getting to play a single game in the pros, is a sobering thought. All that promise, all that hope, relegated to fantasy forever.
With the advent of the internet, an entire generation can connect with a guy who had never heard of Twitter, and as a result he’s still as popular as ever. You can go on YouTube and watch him ball out against Michael Jordan. You can listen to interviews he gave and see that 1,000-watt smile. You can watch his 30 for 30 (which I own, and which literally gives me goosebumps and tears every time I watch it). You owe it to yourself to learn his tale, and to get in touch with a massive piece of Celtics and Maryland lore.
For my money’s worth, he was the greatest Terrapin to play the game. He was LeBron James before LeBron James. He was Michael Jordan’s rival that never came to be. He was my mom and dad’s (both Celtics fans) cautionary tale. Sure, Juan Dixon has a championship, but Bias will always have a special spot in my Maryland pantheon of greatness. We’re always going to remember Len Bias, because we refuse to forget him. I’ll always be a little Bias.