Prisons

He Could've Beat Those Dirty Lakers

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Twenty-two years ago yesterday, University of Maryland star forward Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose. In the wake of his death, Congressman James C. Wright, Jr. (D—Texas), proposed the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act—which, in the course of "providing strong Federal leadership in establishing effective drug abuse prevention and education programs," and "halting international drug traffic," established minimum sentences for the possession or sale of illicit substances.

Wright resigned from Congress in 1986 1989, disgraced after committing an ethical faux pas or two, and the University of Maryland has a new (decent) power forward to worry over in Landon Milbourne, but the federal minimum sentencing laws are still around.

It's a crying shame that Bias, who signed with the Celtics two days before he died and likely could've been part of the dynasty that beat those dirty Lakers, is remembered more as the impetus for draconian drug laws than as a hoopster with a heart of gold and a sick inside game.

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  1. Q: Who is the only Celtic under 6 feet?

    A: Len Bias.

    That joke was making the rounds 2 days after he died.

  2. I like the new Facebook page. I found the old Livejournal page filled with Balko’s emo poetry and Nick’s unicorn sketches to be a bit embarrassing.

  3. …is remembered more as the impetus for draconian drug laws than as a hoopster with a heart of gold and a sick inside game.

    If you’re going to use stupid colloquialisms, at least pick the right one. His inside game was not sick, it was dope.

  4. There’s a lot of “What If?” around Len Bias. But the “What If?” that’s rarely discussed is “What if Len Bias had survived but went on to fail in the NBA, partially (or totally) due to a serious drug problem?” There’s simply no telling what would have happened to his career had he lived through that fateful night.

  5. Wright resigned from Congress in 1986

    Talk about an impressive trick. He resigned in 1986, yet acted as Speaker between 1987 and 1989.

  6. Fuck the Lakers.

    I mean that in the nicest possible way of course.

  7. Maryland doesn’t have a decent anything, and I’m including the coach in that statement.

  8. Hey, if Bias were still alive today, the Celtics would’ve totally owned the Lakers. Forget Kobe’s admittedly god-awful performances. Forget poor Phil Jackson’s lack of adjustments throughout the finals. The Lakers were completely helpless against Boston’s pick and roll (and I’m not just talking about the last game). Boy, did I overestimate the Lakers’ defense. I felt like I was watching a bunch of schoolkids trying to master their backhand with a semi-Western grip. The Lakers have serious work to do come their next training camp.

  9. Actually, Ben, Maryland does have the Comcast Center. I’ve been inside, and I gotta say it’s prolly worth those millions.

  10. If Len Bias were still alive, he’d be 44 and long retired.

  11. MD has Vasquez and Hayes (and to a lesser extent Milbourne and some rising Sophs), but it is going to be a tough year. That said, I think Gary does better when expectations are lower.

    I guess Bias could have been a part of this team, but wouldn’t statistics suggest that even if he had been a solid NBA player, he would be retired by now (mid-40s). Or does “part of the dynasty” contain a distinction that doesn’t imply that he would on the team?

  12. NP,

    Hey, if Bias were still alive today, the Celtics would’ve totally owned the Lakers.

    If Bias were alive today, he likely would have been retired for the better part of this decade because he’d be in his 40s, so he probably wouldn’t have factored into the current Celtics-Lakers rivalry at all. And that’s assuming he didn’t derail his career with drug use (e.g. Micheal Ray Richardson), or that he didn’t have some underlying physical condition that could have been the real reason he died from the overdose (e.g. Hank Gathers, Reggie Lewis). According to teammates several years after his death, that wasn’t the first time Len Bias had used cocaine and since he didn’t have himself to use as a cautionary tale it probably wouldn’t have been the last.

  13. Also, no way is Landon Milbourne a power forward. Maryland is in some serious trouble talent wise this year.

    Also, Len Bias probably would have gotten the “Jordan” treatment and, along with MJ accelerated the NBA’s fall from grace by means of their ridiculous Star System, wherein the rules are not applied to all equally.

  14. Cocaine is a helluva drug.

  15. Here’s the joke us teenage Laker fans were telling back in 1986:

    Q: What kind of Wood doesn’t float?
    A: Len Bias!

  16. Fuck the Lakers.

    Seconded.

    I mean that in the nicest possible way of course.

    I don’t.

  17. Brotherben:

    Did you see game 5? The Lakers were thoroughly sodomized.

    I was wondering how much damage was caused in Boston by the celebration then I remembered that the novelty of Boston winning a championship has worn off.

  18. Other boston,

    I think you mean game 6. Other than a few broken windows on Canal Street and those big flower pots in Faneuil Hall were turned over it wasnt that bad. I think there was 17 people arrested. Long story short, we don’t have anything on Chicago, they know how to sports riot.

  19. It’s a crying shame that Bias, who signed with the Celtics two days before he died and likely could’ve been part of the dynasty that beat those dirty Lakers, is remembered more as the impetus for draconian drug laws than as a hoopster with a heart of gold and a sick inside game.

    Um, isn’t the real crying shame that Len Bias gave up all that promise for one night of blow? I mean, his own actions are the reason people don’t remember him for his on-the-court skills.

    P.S. I don’t get it either, Welch.

  20. Q: What kind of Wood doesn’t float?
    A: Len Bias!

    Wait, I get it now! You were saying that Len Bias weighs as much as a duck, so he’s a witch. Right?

  21. I felt like I was watching a bunch of schoolkids trying to master their backhand with a semi-Western grip. The Lakers have serious work to do come their next training camp.

    You must’ve watched a completely different series than I did. I saw two pretty evenly matched teams through 5 games and one blowout. Adding Andrew Bynum probably gives the Lakers enough of a boost to win that series. Considering how bad the Celtics interior D looked in Game 5 without Perkins and the value that Bynum provides over Perkins. Not to mention the fact that the entire team sans Fisher was under 30, the learning experience alone makes them a threat to win it all next year. Especially if they use their veteran exception to sign a backup big man.

  22. Isn’t there a chance that Len Bias becomes a flop ala Pervis Ellison or Chris Washburn? The 1986 draft was pretty weak, look how Brad Daugherty, #1, turned out. It’s just as likely he’d flop as he would be a star. He gets the James Dean, “He was the greatest!”, treatment because he died young.

  23. Well, Milbourne was supposed to be a lot better than his dad. So I am still waiting to see something.

    I went to the same high school and college ( I later transfered to MD though) as his dad, the all-time leading scorer in Division 3. Yes it’s only D3 but he was dominant and went on to be a star in Europe. I am not sure if he still plays but he was still averaging 15 a game at age 38 and winning awards over there.

  24. How did Brad Daugherty “turn out”? He was a star when his career was cut short due to injury. He averaged over 20 points and 10 boards his last three full seasons and 19/9.5 overall. A lot of #1s turned out a lot worse.

    Unless you were referring to his Nascar analyst career.

  25. Maybe he would have been “‘part of the dynasty” in the way Kevin McHale and Larry Bird are. He could have been a losing GM or coach who helped the Celtics win.

    Of course McHale parted with Garnett, but this whole thing was put in motion when Bird let Scot Pollard go.

  26. John,

    That was part of my point. OD or no, there are lots of ways for a pick/career to go sour.

  27. Here’s the joke us teenage Laker fans were telling back in 1986:

    Q: What kind of Wood doesn’t float?
    A: Len Bias!

    Is that a bastardization of the Natalie Wood joke? Should we expect better humor from current teenage Laker fans?

  28. Natalie would!

  29. In the wake of his death, Congressman James C. Wright, Jr. (D-Texas), proposed the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act

    He was forced to by Ronald Reagan. The Democrats want to legalize drugs but the ReThuglicans won’t let them. Obama will end the WoDs

  30. Let’s not forget Don Rogers and the role his death played in the escalation of the WoD.

  31. Folks, just to be clear, I was aware of Bias’ age gap. My point was that his presence would have kept the franchise going and their roster might have been even more impressive than the one today.

    Mo,

    The scores do say they were fairly evenly matched, but with the exception of game 3 the Lakers were clearly struggling at home and actually quite lucky to win game 5. You’re right that Bynum could’ve made a difference, but seriously, did you see all those uncontested or relatively open shots the Celtics were making? Sans Bynum or not, the Lakers clearly need to work on their defense. Like you said they’re a young team, so hopefully they’ll learn much from this experience.

  32. Bias was a great player and would’ve helped the Celtics, but I’ve never heard him referred to as a “hoopster with a heart of gold”

  33. You saved my life in 1987. I love you Frosty, Like Lefty said,” I’ll see you in heaven.”

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