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Stories Of The NBA: Len Bias

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Drugs are terrible, regardless how you put it or how you use them, they result in millions of deaths every year from normal citizens to a wealthy businessman. About 20 years ago the drug, ‘Cocaine’ claimed the life of Boston Celtics first round pick, Len Bias. Today we take a look at the story in full and what Bias could have been.

Born on November 18th, 1963 in Landover, Maryland the young Phenom had a life of what was and what could have been true success ahead of him. Standing at 6’9’’ and 210 ILBs the All-American Power Forward from the University Of Maryland dominated at the college level. Bias was a consensus first team all-American in ’86, consensus second team All-American in ’85, 2x ACC Player Of The Year, 2x First Team All-ACC,  ACC Athlete Of The Year, and much more. The superstar had solidified his talents as a top 3 pick in the upcoming 1986 draft and had Michael Jordan comparisons ahead of him.

Before we continue the story of Bias, we must recap the 1986 season. The Celtics were coming off a historic year which would see them crowned as the best team in NBA history until those pesky bulls came along in ’96 just ten years later.  The Celtics would have acquired the 2nd overall pick in the 1886 draft via a trade with the Seattle Supersonics. In that trade, the Celtics would go on selecting the Power Forward out of Maryland, his name? Len Bias.

Bias was put into a position only many could dream of. Not only was the 22-year-old a top 3 pick in the NBA draft, going to the NBA and getting paid handsomely to play a sport he loved, he wasn’t going to be your typical high draft pick. By that I mean he wasn’t going to a horrendous team where he had to fend for himself, he was put into a winning culture which was the Boston Celtics who had just come off a championship season, in which he  would also have the opportunity learn from the all time great forward Larry Bird himself.

“Are you packed for Boston?” Bias is asked by the player sitting next to him, who was North Carolina State forward Chris Washburn. Which was moments after the Cleveland Cavaliers selected 7-foot center Brad Daugherty of the with the first selection. “Better get ready because you’re going next,” Washburn tells Bias. “Len Bias is the closest thing to Michael Jordan to come out in a long time,” Celtics scout Ed Badger tells the press. “He’s an explosive and exciting kind of player like that.” After being drafted, Bias would go on to do what many rookies do on draft night after hearing their name called, party. 

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Bias would later go back to his dorm room at the University. He was met with various Terrapin athletes as they lived up the night. At 2 a.m. reports said Bias became edgy and frustrated. He becomes tiresome of talking about himself, his newfound success. He suddenly feels a mountain of pressure. ”I’m getting away from here,” he says to the others. He leaves the dorm and takes off.  “I figured he was going to see a lady,” Keeta Covington would say. Bias returned at around 3AM.  Suddenly, reports would later reveal, cocaine was being passed around the room on a small mirror. For the next three hours, the small group of friends would take “hits” and “lines” of cocaine.

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At 6 a.m., while sitting in a chair talking to Long, Bias closed his eyes for the last time. At 6:32 a.m., a hysterical callee dials 911 as the people in the room would attempt to try to revive Bias. The dispatcher answers the 911 call and the man on the phone, “Tribble” screams, “It’s Len Bias. He passed out. His body, it’s shaking. You have to get here fast. You have to save him.”

And that was the last we would ever hear of Len Bias. The career of Len Bias was officially over, only hours before it began, months before he ever played a game and days before he met the team and practiced with them.  ‘What could have been’ will always be the question tossed around when mentioning Len Bias. 

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