Len Bias' legacy

Len Bias' legacy
May 4, 2012, 3:17 pm
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By Dave UngradyCSNwashington.com
More than a quarter century has passed since Len Bias died after consuming large amounts of cocaine on June 19, 1986, two days after the Boston Celtics made him the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. The way he died has affected how Bias has been memorialized.

Bias, a former two-time ACC Player of the Year at the University of Maryland, has not been inducted into the schools athletics hall of fame. But the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Basketball Hall of Fame feels Bias deserves his due. On Saturday, Bias will be inducted into D.C.s basketball Hall of Fame, marking the first time Bias has received such an honor. To complement his induction, here are some top moments that define his legacy.

Capital Classic MVP
As a senior at Northwestern High School, Bias, along with Johnny Dawkins, earned co-MVP honors of the 1982 Capital Classic All Star game. His 18 points and 11 rebounds helped the Capital All-Stars beat the U.S. All-Stars, 82-79.

NCAA tournament game-winner

Bias hit a 17-foot jump shot with two seconds remaining that helped unranked Maryland upset 15th-ranked Tennessee-Chattanooga by one point in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Bias started 13 games as a freshman, averaging 7.1 points, the best of all Terps freshman.

Bias tops Jordan in College Park
In the only game Bias faced Michael Jordan head-to-head in College Park as a starter, Bias, a sophomore, outscored Jordan 24-21. Still, top-ranked North Carolina beat the fifth-ranked Terps, 74-62.

1984 ACC tournament heroics
Bias was the second-leading scorer on the team (15.2) and was third in rebounds (4.5) but was not named to the All-ACC team during his sophomore year in 1984 after Maryland finished 9-5 in the conference. The snub prompted him to predict he would be MVP of the ACC tournament. He scored 15 points in each of the first two games and then 26 against Duke to win the tournament. He was named MVP.

Bias shuts down Robinson in NCAA tournament
When Maryland faced the Naval Academy in an NCAA second-round game in 1985, its main concern was containing All-America center David Robinson. Bias, a junior, led Maryland with 20 points in the 64-59 win, and he shut down Robinson in the second half. Coach Lefty Driesell assigned him to defend the 6-foot-11 Robinson with Navy leading by 11 points. Robinson scored his last basket of the game with more than 16 minutes remaining.

Bias leads Terps over UNC in Dean Dome
Bias scored 35 points as Maryland handed North Carolina its first loss at its new area, the Dean Smith Center. But it was his late-game heroics that made it Bias marquee game. With Maryland down by nine and just under three minutes remaining, Bias hit a medium-range jumper, then converted a dunk after stealing the inbounds pass. With Maryland ahead by one and about 15 seconds left in overtime, he blocked a driving jump shot in the lane by Kenny Smith. God was with us tonight, and God means Len Bias, Maryland guard Keith Gatlin said after the game.

Celtics draft Bias No. 2 in 1986
The Celtics, the most successful franchise in NBA history, won three NBA titles in the 1980s and were the defending NBA champs. After Bias died, they reached the 1987 NBA finals, but did not reach the finals again until 2008. The 1990s were their worst decade in history.

Bias death disrupts Maryland athletics
Basketball coach Lefty Driesell, football coach Bobby Ross and athletic director Dick Dull left the school within six month of his death. Driesells successor, Bob Wade, committed violations that placed the basketball team on probation. In 1990, several sports lost scholarships in a restructuring because of revenue shortfalls.

Bias' death impacts drug culture and perception

Congress passed the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which established disparities in mandatory minimum sentences for crack and powder cocaine offenses, sending a disproportionate number of young black men to prison. It also authorized 241 million for the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of drug and alcohol addicts and created the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act. Many people, including future Maryland star Keith Booth, used Bias death as a traffic light to never use drugs.

Lonise Bias becomes national speaker

On Dec. 3, 1986, Lonise Bias spoke on the Maryland campus about the impact of Lens death. By that time, she had already made some 60 speeches. Bias still speaks to schools, churches and other groups today and has earned up to 10,000 a speech. Part of her message is improving self-esteem among young people.
Journalist and author Dave Ungrady, a captain of the Maryland track team in 1980, is the author of Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias.