Who remembers Len Bias?

As a Terps fan and with Maryland winning the national title in NCAA basketball I’m wondering if anybody remembers this cautionary tale from the '80’s.

If you don’t know who Bias was: he was an all-american forward at the University of Maryland in the mid '80’s who was the #2 pick in the NBA draft by the defending champs–the Boston Celtics.

This was a guy 2 years behind Michael Jordan in the ACC and who people like Coach K called the best player in college basketball.

What happened to Bias? Why is he not a Michael?

He celebrated his pick in the draft with cocaine and died.

DEAD at 22 years old with $millions at his fingertips.

I’m not sure what I’m asking, but did his death do some good?

Does anybody think that the altheltic superstars think twice knowing that shit like coke can kill them?

I don’t want to preach, and my favorite memory of Bias is of him skying and dunking, but:

What have we, or superstars, learned?

IIRC, that was the first time he ever even TRIED cocaine!! It made his heart explode or something. Very sad story, I remember it because I used to be a Celtics fan in my misguided youth.

Hmmm, did his death do any good? Well, look at it this way: all the basketball players have switched from doing cocaine to smoking weed, probably a good thing in the long run. Not many people die from their first puff on a joint.

Why is he not a Michael?? I’m not sure I understand that comparison…he obviously didn’t get a CHANCE to be a “Michael” because he died!! Who knows how successful Bias could have been…or then again, if he would have lived, maybe he would have turned into a coke head and squandered his talents. The world is full of plenty of stories of wasted lives and underachievers.

I think what really did change after that was professional teams doing a better job of protecting their top prospects. If you are going to pay someone $$millions$$, you better keep your eye on them, don’t let them go back to their dorm with their buddies and try cocaine bought off the street.

I think athletes DO think twice about starting to do drugs, etc, but not because they think they will die from it, but because they know it will cost them their fortune. Then again, look at Darryl Strawberry…!!!:rolleyes:

I remember Len Bias. I thought about him when I was snorting cocaine, too - I was luckier than he was.

I’m sure he made a difference. I’m sure many, many people were scared off from using coke by his experience.

I won’t say Drugs ‘R’ Bad, but I will say Cocaine Is Bad. (I’m fully aware that Bias’s experience with it was exceptional.)

I saw Len Bias play one of his last games. It was UNC vs U of MD, live at the Deandome. I don’t remember who won, but I do remember how amazing he was to watch.

As to the central question, I think you are asking if cases like this make a difference in terms of behavior. There is some evidence that people are more swayed by single, attention-grabbing cases than by statistics or facts (think airline crash vs. airline safety statistics). Unfortunately, it is difficult to change people’s behavior when it comes to something like drug use. We will never know, though, how many people decided not to use after hearing about his death. We can just hope masonite is right and it was a lot.

Who remembers Len Bias?

Everyone from Boston :frowning:

Hmm, how’d that happen, I thought I answered this.

I remember him and was just talking about him on Wednesday.

His death happened just as I was headed off to college and it made me so paranoid that it limited the amount of experimentation I could be coaxed into.


Two identical OPs, two threads. :frowning:

Yeah, I remember Len Bias.

I think he did affect people’s behavior. I forget what year he died, but I was in high school at the time. Pot was popular, and so was cocaine. But a lot of people wouldn’t touch the cocaine. I don’t think that was solely because of Len Bias’s death, but his death definitely reinforced the message that cocaine was really really bad shit. Not only was it super-addictive, but it could kill you BOOM!

Yes, I remember Len Bias. I’m a big GT fan and naturally follow the ACC very closely. A terrible tragedy. Just heartbreaking.

Sad story from yesterday. Yeah, I remember.

Ah yes, Len Bias - the greatest basketball player under six feet.

I know, not funny. I was a high school senior in Gaithersburg, Md when he died. It made a huge impression on me - I’ve never tried cocaine because his death scared me so. I figured, here’s a guy who’s in better physical shape than I’ll ever be, and it killed him.

I’m chicken about drugs anyway, though, so I was probably a lot more receptive to the message.

Len Bias is probably responsible for more injustice than anyone in the last 20 years!

His death was basically responsible for the elavation of “crack cocaine” as the bogey man of the '80s. Bias was drafted to play for the Celtics, the team from Speaker of the House Tip O’Neal’s district.

Right after Bias’ death, Tip O’Neal called an emergency meeting of the crime committee. **“Write me some Goddamn legislation!” **O’Neal is reported to have barked. Congress went into a drug law frenzy…no time was taken to refine the laws, they were mostly just rushed into a vote. It was during this rush to capitalize on Bias’ death that the dreaded mandatory minimum sentences were established for drug convictions. The disparity between sentences for “crack” cocaine and powder cocaine were also introduced during this time–leading to what many call a great racist injustice.

By the way–it was never established what type of cocaine Len Bias used the night he died, nor was it ever established that it was the first time he used cocaine.

I do.

I was a student at U of MD during the Derrick Lewis, Cedric Lewis, Lenny Bias, Tony Massenberg, Jarrod Mustaf years. (Not all on the same team at the same time, of course).

I remember the Diamond Back (school paper) the next morning. I tells ya, very few things were better than watching Lenny sky in a dunk. He had a fadeaway that was down right scary. He was magic on the court. And when Md beat NC State? Shoooooot. It was all over!

As an aside, a few years after Lenny died, his brother was shot to death at Prince George’s Plaza a few miles from is home. That poor mother had to bury both of her two children within three years of each other.

Perhaps the best memoriam to Len Bias: The Sweet Forever by George Pelecanos.

I don’'t know why this thread got 2 OPs; I just searched topics I had posted on and saw the 2 threads that started with my one OP.

HelloKitty–I don’t think too many people in College Park at the time believed it was Bias’s first time snorting coke. That might be the local media and political powers that be demonizing the evils of cocaine–and Bias certainly illustrated that point in a way that really struck home. I remember some media stories stating this “fact”, but it also came during Nancy Regean’s “Just Say No” heyday–and the ‘Washington Post’ is the local media. My “why is he not Michael” question was rhetorical. As constrained as Jordan was in Dean Smith’s UNC system; many (the usual so-called experts) thought that Bias would be a better pro–and he was going the the Celtics, not the suck shit Bullls that drafted Jordan.

Mr. Frink— You have a good debate topic with regards to “Crack v Powder” sentencing laws, but that’s another thread. All media reports and admited second person hearsay reports of people who boasted of partying with Bias involve powder cocaine–IFAIK.

Crack was just starting to make news in DC when Bias died. The homicide rate in DC went through the roof about the same time that he died. And it went stratospheric in the next few years.

A local superstar like Bias trying the new thing (in drugs) like crack–sure, I can buy that. A guy of his local fame would have seen it before the rest of the student population.

But Bias died of the same old snortie that has killed many rock stars and altheletes and other people who never rate any media stories.

The difference being, guys like Tip O’Niell probably drank their morning cofee with the ‘Washington Post’ sports page–of which Maryland basketball got a a lot of ink.

Mr. Frink–as I post–I just reread your last sentence and I think that has been resolved. Let me find some links to support this to your satisfaction.

647– Just for the record…The source for my post is the fantastic book, Smoke & Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure** by Dan Baum.

“It never was established what type of cocaine Bias took, or whether it was his first time” (Chapter 15, page 225)

Of course, I don’t believe everything in the book is necessarily gospel, so I’d love to see your references…

Probably the definitive read on the subject is “Lenny, Lefty, and the Chancellor: The Len Bias Tragedy and the Search for Reform in Big-time College Basketball” by C. Fraser Smith.

I actually went to the UMCP library to look for a copy this morning, but they only have a non-cirrculating copy that’s not availble on weekends.

It’s been almost ten years since I’ve read it, so I’m doing this from memory and could be mistaken. The book starts with Bias’ death, flashes back through his career, and then follows the aftermath up to the hiring of Gary Williams.

Smith was a reporter for the Baltimore Sun who’d covered the story as it broke. IIRC, he interviewed most of the principles, including Bias’s suitemates who were present that night.

Without the book in front of me, I can’t be positive, but I remember one roommate stating that the pile of coke Bias was snorting was ~“the biggest he’d ever seen”.

I looked at the book today and it actually begins with the draft and then moves to the night of his death.

The description of the coke party is on p. 12. Apparently, the pile of coke was enough to “fill a coffee mug;…this was an unheard of amount”. Bias kept a supply of MacDonald’s straws for just such occasions. They snorted it off a mirror that was passed around. The drugs were apparently supplied/proccured by Brian Tribble, who was a good friend of Bias’ and who was, IIRC, charged with distribution of cocaine later on (I don’t recall if he was busted in direct connection to suppling Bias, but it made him a big target of local law enforcement).

Reportedly, Bias used to celebrate big Maryland victories with late night coke “parties” in his dorm, so it’s almost assuredly not his first time snorting coke.

Again IIRC, he was flush with cash from a bank loan based on his future earnings as the #2 NBA pick and this probably accounts for the “unheard of amount” of coke he bought. (I’m not sure, but I think the bank held his parents liable for the loan; adding “further insult to injury–to say the least” to his family’s loss)