Len Bias, the player who

For the experts, he was one of the best players to reach the history of the NBA, despite the fact that he did not play a game in the best basketball league in the world.

Leonard Kevin Bias He was born on November 18, 1963 in Maryland. He was destined to be one of the best basketball players in the world, but died 36 hours after being chosen by the then NBA champion in the 1986 Draft.

Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics had their sights set on the promising star from the University of Maryland. Star numbers, an undisciplined character and the motivation to always go for the win convinced the NBA monarchs to choose Len in second place in the selection process.

Bias’s happiness was such that, one day after signing a contract with the Celtics, he decided to celebrate in the university pavilion where he was staying.

There, along with his friend Brian Tribble, he consumed some lines of cocaine. A fatal mistake. At 8:55 on that June 19, his heart stopped beating.


Was born to be great

Leonard Kevin Bias was born in the suburbs of Landover, in the state of Maryland, United States, on November 18, 1963.

He was tall since his mother gave birth, reaching 2.03 meters. As a child he was quiet, so much so that the pastor of the church his family attended nicknamed him ‘Frosty’.

His passion for basketball also started at a young age. He was the best in his school, Northwestern High School, and was always the protagonist of the picados in the neighborhood.

Rumors of a College Park forward prodigy quickly reached the ears of top colleges, such as Syracuse, Georgetown and Indiana, which did their best to sign Bias.

Len, however, wanted to play with his people and in the place where he always lived. In 1982 he entered the University of Maryland and, in his freshman year, he earned a spot on the starting basketball team.

Undisciplined, arrogant and necessary

Lefty driesell, historic Maryland coach, recalled for Basketball Plus that Len Bias’ first year in college was a hurricane.

Despite his little discipline and arrogant character, ‘Frosty’ trained to become the star of his team. He had the strength of a bull, the speed of a cheetah, and he could leap onto the roof of the gym if he wanted to.

“He had an enviable arrogance, but, for his position, he had something that made him different: he made his teammates better just by being on the court. There was really nothing I couldn’t do, ”Driesell said.

Len went from averaging 7.1 points in his first season in 1982 to 23.2 in his fourth and senior year. He was named All-American and twice voted the best player in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference).

Remembered were his duels with Michel Jordan, when ‘His Airness’ played for North Carolina. 1984, the last year of ‘MJ’ in college basketball, was a battlefield with Bias scoring 24 points and capturing the eyes of the public and NBA observers.

Len Bias vs Michael Jordan.

Celtics wish

By 1986, Len Bias’ final year at the University of Maryland, the Boston Celtics had long been following in the promising forward’s footsteps.

Star numbers, an arrogant character and his desire for competitiveness made him the perfect player for the squad led then by the historic Larry bird, and that he was coming off getting his second NBA title in three years.

Red AuerbachLegendary coach and manager of the Celtics, he believed that ‘Frosty’ was the missing piece to put together a dream team. And he did everything he could to sign him into the 1986 Draft.

He traded Gerald Henderson to the Seattle Sonics (now Oklahoma City Thunder) in exchange for his second place in the national team. The first chosen was Brad Dougherty for the Cleveland Cavaliers and, behind the cardboard, it was Boston’s turn.

Auerbach lit a cigar and took the stage. He glanced over at Leonard, who was sporting an impeccable white suit and a smile that couldn’t be faded by anything.

“Boston Celtics Select Len Bias, University of Maryland”said Red. The applause multiplied, the happiness of the native of Maryland did not give more and the plans of the champions to create an unbeatable team were put to work.

‘Frosty’ touched the sky, his dream was fulfilled. But, even faster than his arrival at the top, was his fall.

The death of a dream

After his signing for the Boston Celtics, Len Bias had hectic hours that June 18. Together with his father he traveled to Washington to seal his contract with the NBA monarchs and an agreement with Reebok.

The sports giant competed with Nike and its sponsorship of Michael Jordan, so a rivalry between the two players was predicted that would go beyond the limits of the court.

Len Bias in the 1986 Draft.
Boston Celtics

“I was a little ahead of Michael. We would have talked about 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, “he said. Walt williams, former NBA player, in an interview with Mark.

Len was exhausted. Cameras everywhere, signatures everywhere and trips from one place to another led him to just think about relaxing, so he called his friend Brian Tribble to have a break before undergoing the Celtics’ tough workouts.

Tribble was a recognized dealer and brought a bag of cocaine to the university pavilion where he met Bias. They both began to snort her until, in the early morning hours, everything started to go wrong.

‘Frosty’ suffered cardiac arrest. Then came repeated seizures: 98% purity of the drug consumed by the athlete was too much for his heart.

Len’s toxicology test showed 6.5 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood. Despite the arrival of an ambulance, the death of the forward prodigy was confirmed at 8:55 a.m. on June 19. It had been 36 hours since his signing with the Celtics.

The death that shook everything

The news was devastating. The call to be the new great figure in the NBA had lost his life and, at the same time, shook the league completely.

The death of Len Bias revived investigations into drug use in professional athletes, basketball being one of the most indicated by the authorities.

In Maryland, four days after his death, 11 thousand people came to the University stadium to say goodbye to ‘Frosty’. There, Red Auerbach acknowledged that interest in the forward came from years ago.

“Boston hadn’t been so shocked since the assassination of John F. Kennedy,” admitted the Celtics manager.

On June 30, at the start of the season, the NBA champion paid tribute to Bias by giving him the shirt that he never used, with the number 30, to his mother.

Leonard's funeral in 1986.
FILE | Mark

For the assumptions were phrases of basketball experts, who predicted that the Maryland-born would become greater than Michael Jordan, who remains insurmountable.

“Bias was a little bit above Michael. Bias’s jump shot was the prettiest thing to see and he could defend in various positions. It was a kind of hybrid of the game of today, “said Walt Williams at the time.

The remains of ‘Frosty’ rest in the Lincoln Cemetery in Maryland, the same place where, four years later, His younger brother Jay, victim of a shootout between traffickers, was buried.

A cruel coincidence that adorns the legend of the best player in the history of the NBA, the one who never played a game as a professional.


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Len Bias, the player who