Friday, August 27th, 2010 at 10:40 am  |  57 responses

For Old Time’s Sake: Len Bias

The story of Len Bias is one of the most heartbreaking in sports history. A powerful 6’8″ forward, Bias shined at the University of Maryland and earned ACC Player of the Year honors in the ’85-’86 season. He was promptly drafted second overall by the Celtics. There he was expected to help lead Boston back to the NBA Finals but tragedy struck only two days after he was drafted. While partying with friends on Maryland’s campus, Bias overdosed on cocaine and went into convulsions. Repeated attempts to revive him failed. Many had dubbed Bias the “next NBA superstar” and you can’t help but think of how great an impact he could have had on the game and the world had he lived. Bias’s death spotlighted America’s cocaine epidemic and helped focus attention on the need to address drug abuse nationwide. Len Bias was 22. RIP.


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  • D.A.

    Still so sad. Prayers for him and his family. GOD Bless.

  • JTaylor21


  • james

    man this is depressing. he woulda been such a great nba talent. RIP Len Bias

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    In his death he may have had a more lasting impact than he would have had in life. Not saying that comforts his family and friends, but growing up, Len Bias was the example my parents used to talk about drugs and the way you can never predict how your body will react.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    Sad sad stuff…he was one heck of a player, just a kid when he died too.

  • Hussman25

    @Allenp: Took the words right from me… Co-Sign 100%

  • http://slamonline.com Dave.

    Allenp, that’s a dick of a thing to say.
    Excellent FOTS, though.

  • Martey

    They say that like Bird had Magic as a rival, Jordan would have had Bias. They both would have come into the league around the same time. Maybe the fact that Jordan didn’t have a Bias to go toe to toe with allowed him to dominate that much more. They still show the Maryland vs NC game, tagged as Jordan vs Bias on ESPN Classic. The Celtics would have been better than they were if they had Bias and Reggie Lewis in the late 80′s early 90′s where they were in the dark ages.

  • http://deleted KH10

    Ummmmm “drafted second overall by a struggling Celtics franchise in need of a superstar”
    Bird, Mchale, Parish? WTF.

  • otterpop


    “..drafted second overall by a struggling Celtics franchise in need of a superstar. There he was expected to lead Boston back to respectability ..”

    ^Struggling? They were defending NBA champs.

    ^In need of a superstar? Ever heard of Larry Bird?

    ^Back to respectability? What’s your definition of respectability?

    Unbelievably ignorant. Find someone who knows sports and a little NBA history to write this stuff, will you?

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    LeBron before LeBron.

  • http://SLAMonline.com Schneezy

    @KH10. bad error. thanks for the correction.

  • http://gmail dirty frank

    @AllenP. That was a harsh thing to say but I agree. Unfortunatly we humans usually need horrible tragity before we take any action.

  • The Philosopher


  • Jake

    Children,crack is whack.

  • nella

    The Celt’s woulda been winning titles into the mid-90′s. Would have made it a lot harder for the Pistons/Bulls to start their runs.

  • JTaylor21


  • Hussman25

    @Dave: How was his comment harsh?? If Len Bias survived that would have been just another athlete using drugs… His death gave us, growning up in the 80′s, a reason never ever to tough the drug. All you need to do is make 1 mistake and life can be taken from you. It made you cautious of what you got urself into.

  • Hussman25

    excuse the typo: “a reason never ever to use the drug”

  • JTaylor21

    Also Len Bias if he would’ve stayed alive and played in the league at the same time MJ played, he wouldn’t have being his rival like Magic/Bird because Bias lacked the skills and drive that jordan had and would’ve being a good nba player at best not an all-time great.

  • tavoris

    a lot of people revered him in college as the future G.O.A.T.

  • http://www.nba.com/bulls The Babe

    RIP Len B

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    @ about the 1.10 mark, they highlighted a free throw?????

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I know my comment might seem harsh to some, and I understand that sentiment.
    A person’s death is almost always a tragedy for their family and friends.
    But, if Bias had never died, and had instead gone on to the NBA, there is no guarantee he would have been able to live up to the hype he generated at Maryland. There is no guarantee he would have only dabbled in cocaine instead of developing a full-fledged habit, like contemporaries such as Chris Washburn.
    His sudden and shocking death made people realize that cocaine wasn’t just a harmless “party drug” which was its profile at the time. It didn’t prevent the crack epidemic, but over the years, Bias’ death has been used by people to drive home the message of how dangerous drugs can be, and how there are no guarantees that your “first time” (which is what many people have said this was for Bias, although there is no proof of that) could be your last time.
    I don’t know if Len Bias the marginal, or star basketball player would have had the same impact on the world as Len Bias the martyr. I didn’t mean any disrespect by that though.

  • JTaylor21

    By the way WEED is not a drug because there has been no one who has overdosed or killed himself because he was high on weed.

  • JTaylor21

    ^^^^I meant to say “SERIOUS” drug.

  • James

    1:56-1:22 (1st clip) BEASTLY DUNKS! This man was just incredible. RIP.

  • gravyjones

    love these for old times sake videos. do one rod strickland. pretty please..

  • http://www.boogiewilliams.com Boing Dynasty

    RIP LB

  • total scrotal implosion

    I didnt know drinking and driving was bad until I saw a car wrappd around a pole and the drivers neck in the glovebox. I had no idea heights were dangerous until I saw a guy jump off a bridge and turn into pulp. I thought knives were bubble gum until I saw a guy get cut and his guts hanging out. ….. If anyone really needed to wait until a celebrity died from coke to know its bad then I feel sorry for them.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    The vast majority of people learn from experience and examples. Apparently you are in the minority.

  • http://slam Kid Canada

    If he played for the 86 celtics they would have gotten over 72 wins

  • http://theurbangriot.com The Nupe

    There is no telling how good he could/would have been. He had a lot of expecttions placed on him and nobody knows if he would have lived up to the hype or not. I remeber being excited to see Harold ‘baby Jordan’ Miner, and besides winning a couple of dunk contest, he didn’t live up to any expectations. It’s sad that Bias cut his life short with the Cocaine, we’ll never see how all that potential developed. His death did give rise to additional attention to drugs and I guess that’s going to be a part of his legacy as well.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ The Promise

    He would have gave Mike a run for his money, a truly great player, and had the skills to get better and better, I think he could have been Jordan-esque, maybe not quite as great, but who knows, had he played for that Celtics team, they would have racked up on chips, no doubt. RIP

  • JTaylor21

    AllenP who are you talking to in your 2:06pm comments. TSI is obviously right when he says that people shouldn’t wait for a celebrity to die just know how dangerous/deadly cocaine can be.

  • jedi420

    My mind boggles to think about how good the Celtics would have been with this kid, such unbelievable talent and athleticism gone to waste.. RIP

  • http://gmail dirty frank

    The point is that while people SHOULDN’T wait for an example to strike a point home that is the only way most people learn. Especially young men.

  • total scrotal implosion

    Some people dont have the intelligence to recognize when someone(parent, teacher, etc) is telling them something for their own good. Parent,’drugs are very bad, will destroy your brain and body. Full of harmful chemicals and you never know whats in it, you could die immediately if you put that kind of poison in your body.’ kid, ‘ok’. Kids goes and snorts coke for a couple years, loses all money and friends, and job, etc. Later, kid’ man, who would have known its so bad? I sucked feet for coke’

  • dsleepy21

    @JTaylor….c’mon man show a lil respect for the departed. you don’t have to try and turn this one into something humorous, b/c it’s not.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Len Bias would have been a great player, so for those saying he wouldn’t must have never seen him play. Also I don’t feel bad for him, he chose those friends to hang out with and he paid the price by doing drugs. Alot of people die every day doing drugs. Every 8 seconds someone leaves this earth, so if you choose to do anything illegal and die how can you feel sorry for them, but he would have been a great player and his life is used as an example to leave drugs alone. BOOK IT!!!

  • http://gry.1@comcast.net Frankie G

    I have a published priliminary report from the doctors who did the first autopsy, right after he died, that says they found between 3 to 5 grams of cocaine in Len’s stomach. That finding was not reported in the final autopsy. If the initial autopsy was correct then there was a cover up of the first autopsy for some reason. Just about anyone who has had experience with cocaine will tell you that cocaine, especially in that amount, in the stomach is very unusual since the drug is very bitter making it the least desirable way to use it.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    What people should and shouldn’t do has very little impact on what they actually do. In my experience.

  • The Philosopher

    You are a wise, wise young cat.
    We see you, brethren.

  • total scrotal implosion

    Certainly that is valid allen. One might think that the ideal and actual would be closer when it comes to life and death situations. However, many people are just dumb and go along just to get along

  • The Philosopher

    Agreed, also.
    From my end, anyway.

  • lexluther703

    1:20 where he dunks on a dude backwards just sums it all up..

    Thanks for the love to my manz, SLAM, greatly appreciated

  • hammer

    Also R.I.P. 2 reggie lewis,another celtic gr8 that passed away only 7yrs later after len bias did. Hey slam how about a FOTS on reggie?

  • S_kemp

    man, that kid was NICE !

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    RIP Len Bias.

  • Killian

    “she’ll be with you when you rise and fall, your nose wide open, the final straw should have been when she stole Len Bias’ heart” – cormega – Girl

  • tavoris

    I’m convinced Blake Griffin is the reincarnation of Len Bias

  • tavoris

    with the lessons learned, of course

  • MVPballer

    Greatest basketball talent to never play in the NBA.

  • cb4

    its a sad story,

    I still wonder what len and the monster hank gathers would have been able to do in the nba

    imagine len on the hall of fame boston team, it would have challenged for the greatest team of all time

  • http://Www.dimemag.com B-More Mike

    What a lot of people don’t know is that his brother was killed in PG County a while after he died. Prayers still go out 2 his family.

  • Hussman25

    BTW: @0:50… That is just amazing! RIP Lenny

  • Hussman25

    @Tavoris: I cosign that statement (I’m convinced Blake Griffin is the reincarnation of Len Bias) 100%…