He’d be 50 years old today.
Leonard Kevin Bias’ story is the quintessential cautionary tale. Immensely talented young man makes good, has an amazing college basketball career, and is about to realize the dream of making the National Basketball Association.
Unfortunately, we all know how this story ends.
One celebratory night…One fateful lapse in judgement…A lost life, and the creation of a perpetual ‘what if’ for family, friends, admirers, and basketball fans alike. Len’s passing became a tool for folks’ ambitions and agendas far outside of the lines and confines of a basketball court.
For folks, like myself, that grew up in Prince Georges County and grew up on the exploits of arguably the most talented basketball player in the history of the region, The prism we view Len Bias through is a bit different. Lenny Bias was the same kid that many of us were. He grew up in the same type of neighborhoods; He saw a lot of the same neighborhood challenges, the same pressures, etc. More importantly, his career, his successes, were a beacon for an entire generation of kids in the DMV to embrace taking those talents from the blacktop, and translating them to school. In many cases, that drive to ‘be like Len’ literally saved lives, just like the circumstances of his passing has.
From a basketball perspective, Lenny was quite simply ahead of his time. Lenny was 6’9, 210 pounds, and had the ball skills to play positions 2 through 5 on both the high school and college level. He was practically unstoppable in one of the absolute best College Basketball conferences ever, at a time where the talent in that conference was legendary.
Ball handling? Check. Athleticism? OFF THE CHARTS. Basketball IQ? Check. As a small forward, he was THE prototype. Before the terms ‘stretch 4’ or ‘point forward’ were a thing, Len Bias WAS that template. We’ll never know how he would’ve impacted the league if that night after the draft would’ve never taken place. We DO know that Len Bias was as athletically gifted a basketball player that there’s EVER been at the college level, and that he had the tools to revolutionize the way the game at the small forward position was played, if he would’ve been alive to develop in the league.I think of the aftermath of Len’s death and I can’t help but wonder if there are two stronger people of the face of planet earth than James and Lonise. What they’ve done in the wake of the passing of two sons, is extraordinary. As this day comes to a close, I chose to remember Len’s legend…His Talent….His Exploits.
He’d be proud of the basketball mecca that PG County, and the greater DC/Metro area, has become.Rest In Peace, Lenny…Keep banging on them in those 5 on 5’s upstairs.
Until Next Entry…