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Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 3:38 pm  |  19 responses

Documentary Sheds Light on Bias’ Death

Portrayed for 23-years as an ignorant martyr of the anti-drug movement, Len Bias will be portrayed in a new light in a documentary, to be released June 19. The film features interviews with his teammates, friends and family as well as witnesses to Bias’ overdose. Perhaps the docu’s most important revelation is that Bias dabbled in cocaine use several times before his death. Bias’ popularity, combined with the misconception that it was first-time use, spurred law markers to take harsh and hasty action. The result was a bevy of uninformed athletic policies and national legislation that merged into a growing War on Drugs. Yes, Bias’ cautionary tale scared some people away from using drugs, but it also spurred undue incarceration and misery to many others. (via Deadspin)

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  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    Uh, I’m massively against the war on drugs and everything (DECRIMINALIZATION IS THE WAY! TAKE AWAY JAIL TIME AND FEED THE SYSTEM AT THE SAME TIME!) but how exactly does Len Bias doing it ‘a couple of times’ and ‘one time’ change anything? The war on drugs woulda all been the same, the message woulda just been different.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    So wait, no one was aware of the dangers of cocaine before Len Bias died? Hadn’t Micheal Ray Richardson already been banned for life? And New York had already instituted mandatory minimum drug laws as early as 1973. Len Bias’s death may have wrecked the Celtics rebuilding hopes and ended Lefty Driesell’s career at Maryland, but I’m not sure whether it extended much beyond that, except maybe as a wakeup call to the dudes who were still doing blow in the locker rooms.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    i man dont, dont do no cocaine, chokebrain. too bad, len would have been one of the greats and assuredly altered nba history.

  • http://mindyourbusiness@getalife.com Allenp

    Russ
    I’m going to have to disagree. Len Bias was a cautionary tell in the hood I grew up in.
    People always said “one time can kill you, look what happened to Len Bias.” And from what I’ve heard from other folks, this was repeated in a lot of places.
    On another note, while the “one time” argument is technically true, in most cases it wasn’t, which led to disillusionment about anti-drug campaigns.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    This is an add-on to Allenp’s comment.
    And this is where the NBA players as role models come in. People used Bias as an example, and maybe there was improvement. I don’t know, just something to think about.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    But whether it was his first time or his third time, what difference does it make? That message was still accurate. One time DID kill him, it just happened to not be his FIRST time. It’s not like his death was a cumulative thing. (I don’t think—everything I know about cocaine I learned from ‘Scarface’.) If Len Bias hasn’t become the cautionary tale, someone else would have been. It’s hard to say hat would have happened had Len not died, because he did.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Had Len not died, maybe Micheal Ray Richardson’s lifetime banishment becomes the story. Or Roy Tarpley’s. Or maybe a different prospect ODs and dies. Had he not died, it’s not like you’d be able to get a couple lines with your latte at Starbucks.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Russ, I’m out of this conversation, seeing as I wasn’t alive during the time of the death and don’t have enough knowledge of the whole situation and time period to make an argument either way.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Cheryl

    I was, Moose, and I was living in D.C. And I was doing a lot of coke. (Confessions again, Ben). Everybody was during that period. It was the 80s, coke was flowing freely (It was said the guy who supplied the blow to Len was the Mayor–Marion Barry–supplier) and if you were “hip” you were probably doing it, or were around folks doing it. Point being, Len’s death was most definitely a wake up call and cautionary tale for those in the D.C. area at least. Len was seen as a “good kid”, clean cut, intelligent, “not-hood”. His death brought home the fact that not all folks who used drugs fit the stereotype of the down and out low life. What happened to Len really did have an impact, at least it did where I’m from. I’m looking forward to the documentary. Thanks for the heads up, Slam.

  • http://thegoodpoint.com/writers/samjoynt.html Sam Joynt
  • Jackie Moon

    I’m with Allenp. Living in Maryland at the time, I remember the lesson I learned from this was that even if it was your first time, you could die, THAT’s how dangerous cocaine was. It was just another swing of the hammer on the nail that was the “Just Say No” campaign. As much as you could say Magic had an effect on the awareness of AIDS, Len Bias’ death had an effect on the “awareness” of cocaine for young adults like myself in the late 80s.

  • chintao

    Dying on your first line is extremely rare. A first-time user would not need much substance to start feeling the effects. Seasoned users are at a greater risk of O.D.’ing, because they need more blow to do the job.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    to me, anyone who “learned” from his death that the siht could kill are fcuking stupid!!!!!! if a person didnt know beforehand how retarded it is to do the stuff, and it takes a popular athletes death for you to realize the siht is poison, then you certainly dont need to reproduce.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Cheryl

    So, Tarzan, you don’t drink, you don’t smoke, you don’t drive without a seatbelt, drink a beer or two and drive, ski without a helmet, fcuk without a condom, eat surgar, burgers with bacon and cheddar, etc.? C’mon, all those things can kill your a$$, yet people still do them. And my guess is that you’ve done at least one of the above. The point is, and I don’t know how old you are, but during that period–early to mid-80s alot of people were doing blow. It was the “thing to do” and a party favor to many. The same way Grey Goose is a party favor. When Bias died, a lot of people looked at partaking in that pary favor differently. My guess is that a lot of people will be looking at skiing without a helmet diffently now since Natasha Richardson died on a bunny slope.

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    Did Cheryl just compare cocain of the 80s to Grey Goose of today? Seriously? How addicted WERE you, Cheryl?
    And I think you’re all missing the point, it doesn’t matter than Len Bias didn’t do it his first time, the message woulda still been altered so that people would have thought twice about doing coke anyway. Even if it turned out he did coke everyday, the message woulda been the same. If he didn’t die, someone else would have been the martyr. The government was searching for someone like this for YEARS.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Cheryl

    That’s just the point. It wasn’t addiction, it was partying. Anyone over 40 will know what I’m talking about during that time period. Len wasn’t addicted, he used coke. And using it casually killed him. That’s what I think is being referred as a cautionary tale. We know now, the “evils” of the drug, but back then we didn’t view it any differently than having a drink. I hope someone in the Slam fam who’s over 40 can attest to what I’m saying. What you view now as common sense about drug use simply wasn’t back then. Heroin was of course seen as a “bad” drug, because of what we’d seen of fathers and brothers coming back from Nam addicted to that stuff. But blow was taken lightly, like weed.

  • http://jameyburke.blogspot.com KobeWearsAPurpleThong

    I back up Cheryl. I was living in the Boston area when the Bias tragedy happened. Cocaine was more of a recreational drug then-crack had not busted into mainstream yet (shortly thereafter it did) and coke was a “party drug.” It was out in candy dishes like M&M’s or mints. You were not an addict if you did a few toots here and there. Now if you did Heroin, you were a junkie loser. Coke was IT! It was widely accepted and you were cool if you did it casually. Then crack came, and eeeeverything changed. Cheryl, don’t let Tarzan get to you-what do you expect from someone who frequents a webpage that promotes IPhone apps for 4-year olds…lmao

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