Yesterday we looked at Len Bias vs. David Robinson in 1985, two very memorable players for very different reasons: Navy’s Robinson grew six inches in college and emerged as a superb, Hall of Fame center who won multiple championships while Maryland’s Bias of course died the night he was drafted by the Boston Celtics of acute cocaine intoxication.
As far as basketball heartbreaks go, the only things that approach it were Hank Gathers, who died on the court, and Maurice Stokes, whose injury led to paralysis and an early death. Reggie Lewis is in this discussion too.
But no one was as shocking as Bias who appeared, even just out of his teens, to be an all-time great.
In his day in the ACC he did face some true greats including Ralph Sampson, Brad Daugherty and of course Michael Jordan.
This clip is from a UNC-Maryland game in 1984. Because Jordan had such an epic career, people don’t generally understand that Bias and Jordan were essentially on the same level in college.
Nothing was as bad for us as it was for his family, which would lose brother Jay later in a shooting, but not getting to see Bias achieve his potential was truly sorrowful.
Jay, incidentally, died in the same ER where Len was pronounced dead just four years earlier.