Wanna feel old?

Len Bias would’ve been 50 years old this week. Thanks to Deadpsin for highlighting that “twenty-seven years later we’re still losing our shit over Len Bias,”

Although I don’t accept the entirety of Deadpsin’s hypothesis that all of the 1980-era drug laws resulted from over-reaction to the Bias tragedy, the Deadspin entry and many of the links in their entry are definitely worth a read.

Bias’s death loosed all kinds of terrible ideas on the nation, foremost among them our famously destructive mandatory-minimum sentencing regime, which was enshrined into law in October 1986. It began the process of militarizing the sports world according to the hysterical exigencies of an unwinnable drug war, a process that accelerated when Ben Johnson tested positive for stanozolol at the 1988 summer Olympics in Seoul and turned performance-enhancing drugs into the war’s newest rhetorical front.

Len Bias’s legacy is all around us even still. It’s the cup you have to pee in before starting a new job. It’s the demographic nightmare of crack sentencing. It’s the monthly freakout over recreational drug use among athletes. It’s Barry Bonds on the federal docket, being prosecuted by morons. It’s the ongoing attenuation of our Fourth Amendment rights, helped along by the work of sports league- and media-enabled drug warriors like Jeff Novitzky.

Bias died in 1986 in what may have been the peak of Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball — a time when the league was not yet watered down with too many teams and a time when college basketball programs were not yet decimated by excessive early entries into the NBA. It is hard to argue that the amazing depth of talent the conference experienced from 1984-1986 will ever be duplicated.

We’ve touched on this before and its worth a look.

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13 Responses to Wanna feel old?

  1. Wufpacker 11/19/2013 at 7:38 AM #

    I can still remember where I was when I heard that news. Driving across the Hwy 58 bridge crossing Bogue Sound onto Emerald Isle.

    Seems like only yesterday.

  2. Texpack 11/19/2013 at 8:27 AM #

    I was at the 1984 ACC Tournament in Greensboro. That was Lefty’s finest moment in College Park. I still have a soft spot for Charles G. Drisell. You are correct about that being the pinnacle of ACC Basketball.

    I heard the news on Martini & Edmonds afternoon sports talk show here in Houston while rolling down Texas 225.

  3. DC_wolf 11/19/2013 at 9:45 AM #

    I was @ a house party in Greenville, NC of a friend who went to ECU; everyone was getting WIDE & the stereo was blasting @ illegal levels but the TVs were also on & slowly everyone started noticing Len’s picture on the screen w/a newscaster talking & talking – this went on so long we knew something was up.. Suddenly all the music was gone, the TVs were turned up & everyone was just shocked.. And talking about what a great player he was.

  4. bill.onthebeach 11/19/2013 at 10:33 AM #

    Len Bias was truly one of the best ever in the ACC…. even if he wore the wrong uniform. If would have been something watching Bias and Jordan battle for another 10 or 15 years in NBA.

    That said…. if what happened to Bias had not happened… it would have happened to some other high profile basketball player sooner rather than later, with the same results.

    As it was, maybe one or more other kids’ lives were saved.

    As suggested… Drisell was also at his pinnacle and the fact remains that the old lefthander was the key to ACC’s success at that time…. not Coach Smith or anyone else. His “passion for beating Big Four teams” was the fuel that fed the ACC fire.

    Cremins ( protege of Frank McGuire ) and Holland, while noteworthy, both paled in comparison.

    In the new ACC, Boeheim could easily come close but he’s too old and probably won’t be on the court long enough to complete the restoration of coaching /school rivalries. Patino, on the other hand, is a perfect fit.

    The remainder of those currently coaching, other than Uncle Roy and Coach Rat, are just ‘nice guys’.

  5. wufpup76 11/19/2013 at 10:34 AM #

    I was eating a bowl of cereal and watching cartoons (I was 9 yrs old at the time, but I remember being shocked when the news scroll came across the bottom of the screen).

    I had watched this guy do some unbelievable things on the basketball court, and he was dead – just like that.

    I still remember bits and pieces of his performance in the Dean Dome and how he left their crowd stunned. Just an amazing player.

  6. Tuffy2 11/19/2013 at 10:52 AM #

    Hard to believe that he would be 50. I was 29 at the time he died. He was the second best player in acc history. DT being first of course.
    Larry Bird was waiting for him so he could take him under his wing. No one will ever know for sure but I always said that if Len Bias would have had an nba career it would go into the books len Bias#1 MJ#2.
    I say this with no disrepect to MJ of course. Len bias had just as quick a first step to the basket and with that frame of his he was just a beast. He could shoot from anywhere rebound and block shots.

    Makes you realize how great David was to finish over that guy.

  7. MP 11/19/2013 at 12:51 PM #

    Len Bias was the greatest basketball player I ever watched play basketball. [And no, I did not have the pleasure of watching David Thompson play; although I did shake DT’s hand at the Belk Bowl 2 years ago!]

    I was a Celtics fan as a kid, and I was no fan of the University of Maryland. I was THRILLED when Cleveland passed on Bias and Boston drafted him.

    My older brother happened to be a Lakers fan. He called me from his job that day to break the news to me. I remember responding how uncool it was to joke / make up something like that… He told me he wouldn’t kid about that and wasn’t kidding… It was devastating.

    Bias was incredible and the sky was the limit.

  8. bill.onthebeach 11/19/2013 at 4:03 PM #

    While it appears all of us here at SFN are finding ways to remember the Twerps in positive and respectful ways on this day….. it looks like three UNx lawyers over in Greensboro have other ideas….


    Blame it all on Gary….

  9. Pack78 11/19/2013 at 4:25 PM #

    I remember Bias bringing the Twerps back from 8-9 points down in the final three minutes or so to whip both us and unx in his last year…he just took over the game like few could.

  10. choppack1 11/19/2013 at 8:32 PM #

    Favorite non-nC state player ever.

  11. john of sparta 11/19/2013 at 8:53 PM #

    JFK/MLK/Space Shuttle/LenBias/9-11…everyone can remember
    WHEN…so what? Len snorted his life away. HIS CHOICE.
    His Freedom. others were taken away not by their actions.
    Len Did It and he died by DOING it. no pity party here.

  12. choppack1 11/19/2013 at 9:01 PM #

    John hour choice… me I enjoyed watching him play…and I feel horrible for bias’ who saw 2 sons taken from them prematurely. You probably aren’t a parent and of you are heaven help you if one of your children dies no matter what the circumstances.

  13. Tuffy2 11/20/2013 at 6:38 AM #

    John of sparta- I believe the vast majority on here are not throwing a pity party for the man. We are talking about the guy on the BB court because that is the only place most people would know of him. As far as snorting his life away, we all know he made the ultimate mistake that day and payed the ultimate price.

    Len was a good kid who had great support from his family. Hell, he was headed to the Celtics and was scheduled to work with Larry Bird who was going to take him under his wing so to speak.
    Why would he risk all that? I asked that same question myself and all I can say is addiction puts one in a tough position to make the correct call. Some people are stronger than others and God bless them for it. I feel Len felt invincible and at the same time let others corrupt him. That is a recipe for disaster
    It’s as though with the game on the line a Len Bias would not perfer the ball in his hand as the clock is ticking down. Just the total opposite of what that person was. That to me is just one example of what Len Bias addiction did to him.

    I could be dead wrong except I had a nephew who passed just about 9 years ago. I bring my nephew up because he died the night he signed to a single a minor league team and OD on the same drug at his best friends house three hours after he signed the contract. Not quite the same as Len bias. My Sister told me that he never showed her any reason for her to be worried . They lived in Texas and he just graduated. It was real hard to take and I will never get over it I believe to some extent. None of us saw it coming.

    So john of Sparta, I might be able to accept you stating that len had a choice in the matter but, I have to disagree when it comes down to freedom as that is the first thing addiction takes away once it puts its hooks in you. This of course is only based on if Len had been using for a while. But that damn drug is so dangerous one person could try it for the first time and their life is history.

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