With the NBA draft looming this week, much of the talk, aside of the top available players, will be about Len Bias’ untimely death 25 years ago.
It doesn’t seem that long ago. But it has indeed been 25 years since we were all mortified that two days after being drafted No.2 overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA draft, Len Bias was dead. He died of a cocaine overdose.
Because he died before ever bouncing a basketball in the NBA, we are left to wonder just how great Bias could have been. His ability to dominate during his four-year career at Maryland gave many of us reason to believe he would carry greatness into the NBA.
The Celtics thought enough of Bias’ talent to deem him the player that Hall of Famer Larry Bird would pass the torch on to when he was done. But it’s hard to truly measure NBA greatness in a player who never got to play the game.
Yet there are those who believe Bias and all of his athleticism and explosiveness could have surpassed Michael Jordan and at the least shared the stage with “His Airness” as the game’s greatest player. Who knows?
That's it, we will never know for sure. We are left to wonder and compare their respective games in competition that wasn't exactly apples to apples. Jordan amazed us in the NBA, while Bias captured our imaginations as hands down the best player in the ACC his final two seasons at Maryland.
We missed out on the chance for Jordan and Bias to do battle on the NBA floor as they certainly would have. And we wouldn’t have been left to judge eras because Bias and Jordan certainly would have handled that argument on the court.
Who knows, maybe Jordan and the Bulls would have only won three NBA titles instead of six, while Bias won the other three.
But it’s really hard to imagine anything other than what we realized, which was Jordan being brilliant on the basketball court without any real equal for so many years. All of the intangibles certainly point to Bias being a great one, a cinch Hall of Famer. It’s just so unfortunate that Bias never had the opportunity to do it.