From pick 2 in the NBA Draft to an unexpected death in less than 48 hours: the tragic end of Len Bias

Experts cataloged him as Michael Jordan’s great competitor, but a cocaine overdose ended his life shortly after the 1986 Draft.

The wait is over. The 2022 NBA Draft It will take place this Thursday, June 23, from 8:00 p.m. One of the great attractions of the event is knowing who are the first players to be chosen by the franchises. This is a great privilege, but at the same time a great responsibility due to the expectations that critics and fans place on them. Now, the 1986 Draft will be remembered as one of the most tragic in history due to the sudden death of the No. 2 pick 36 hours after being selected by the Boston Celtics. The protagonist? Len Bias.

Leonard Kevin Bias was born on November 18, 1963 in Landover, Maryland. The American started playing basketball from a very young age in the streets and when he grew up he changed the cement for the parquet in the instituto Northwestern High School de Hyattsville. There he began to train and, despite the fact that discipline was not something that characterized him, he led the team to a runner-up position in 1982.

His talent was indisputable. Several universities noticed him for what he had shown in high school. However, Bias opted for the University of Maryland to dispute one of the most complicated conferences at the university level: la Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Yes, a conference in which the University of North Carolina, then led by Michael Jordan.

Len Bias

His first steps in college basketball were not easy. Len was showered with criticism because he was far from the level he had shown in high school. However, he turned a deaf ear and improved remarkably until he became the star of the team.

When Michael Jordan was drafted by the Chicago Bulls (1984), Len Bias became the top undisputed star in the league: was named ACC Player of the Year two years in a row (1985 and 1986). Precisely in his last university season he scored 35 games to eliminate top-ranked North Carolina in the quarterfinals. A consecrated performance that showed that he was ready for the NBA.

Len Bias’ choice in the 1986 NBA Draft

Although Len Bias and MJ had faced each other at the University, the great expectation was in the rivalry that could take place in the NBA. The Maryland native was the first to be compared to Jordan. In that context, the 1986 Draft arrived.

The event was held on June 17 at Madison Square Garden (New York). After the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Brad Daugherty in pick # 1, the Boston Celtics chose who was called to be the successor to Larry Bird: Len Bias. The next day, the rookie he traveled to Washington to sign a $1.6 million contract with Reebok and later returned to Maryland.

Len Bias

The tragic death of Len Bias and comparisons with Michael Jordan

Already in his hometown, Bias began with the celebrations for his long-awaited arrival in the NBA. Unfortunately, everything got out of control: Around three in the morning on June 19, he decided to use cocaine in Washington Hall, the university residence where he was staying. After a few hours, the 22-year-old basketball player suffered a seizure and stopped breathing. The cocaine in question was more than 98% pure.

Some of his friends tried to revive him while one of them, Brian Tribble, called 911 for an ambulance. Doctors were unable to save him at the scene and decided to transfer him to a Riverdale Park hospital for final attempts. Unfortunately it was already too late: Len Bias died at 08:55 a.m. from an overdose that caused a fatal cardiac arrhythmia..

Len Bias

He was a little ahead of Michael Jordan. We would have spoken of him as the best of all time. Jordan would be on a different level. I think they would have pushed each other to the limit, but Bias was a little bit above Michael. Bias’ jump shot was the prettiest thing he could see and he could defend in various positions. It was kind of a hybrid of the game nowWalt Williams, a former NBA player, came to declare.

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