Leonard Kevin Bias (November 18, 1963June 19, 1986) was a college basketball player who suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia that resulted from a cocaine overdose less than 48 hours after being selected by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA Draft. Bias was the second player selected in the draft, after Brad Daugherty of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bias was known to his family, friends, teammates, and in the media as "Len" or "Lenny" rather than by his formal name, Leonard.

From Landover, Maryland, Bias attended Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, and subsequently the University of Maryland where he became a star player and an All-American. Wearing number 34, he impressed basketball fans with his amazing leaping ability, his physical stature and his ability to create plays. During his college career Bias was considered one of the most dynamic players in the nation. Many basketball enthusiasts have argued that he was the first player to come under the title of "the next Michael Jordan", even though Jordan himself was only in his second professional season at the time Bias was drafted.

Bias died in a dormitory on the University of Maryland, College Park campus. Later, his death would be featured as part of an anti-drug media campaign. A district court and court of appeals found that Bias was a drug user.

Years later, on December 11, 1990, Bias's younger brother Jay, a promising high school basketball player, was shot to death in a dispute in the parking lot of Prince George's Plaza, a Hyattsville shopping mall located just miles from the University of Maryland.


Less than two days after being selected by the defending champion Boston Celtics with the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft, Bias - considered the "next Michael Jordan" by many [1][2] - flew in to Maryland from Boston at around 11:00 PM, and ate crabs with some teammates and a member of the football team. He left at approximately 2:00 AM on the 19th, drove to an off-campus gathering, which he attended briefly before returning to his dorm at 3:00 AM. Bias, who had ingested large quantities of cocaine at some earlier point, was talking with teammate Terry Long when he collapsed sometime between 6:00 and 6:32. According to Bias's sister (who only had a secondhand account of the story)[3], the player was sitting on a couch and leaned back as though he was going to sleep, but instead began to have a seizure. Bias died of a cardiac arrythmia, most likely related to the cocaine overdose.

What might have been

Len Bias represents to the NBA, and especially to the Celtics organization, one of the greatest "what-ifs" in basketball history. Many considered Bias to be the perfect complement to the Larry Bird-led Celtics, a potential backup for both Bird and Kevin McHale who would have limited their minutes and perhaps in turn extended their careers. Some, including Red Auerbach and Johnny Dawkins, a Duke assistant who was a high school and college contemporary of Bias, believed that the inclusion of Bias could have allowed for the Boston Celtic organization's continued dominance well into the 1990s.

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                  G  MIN  FG  FGA  3P 3PA  FT FTA  REB  PF AST  TO BLK STL  PTS
82-83 Maryland   30  661  86  180   3  11  42  66  125  55  22  34  16  10  217
83-84 Maryland   32 1104 211  372          66  86  145  81  48  47  24  13  488
84-85 Maryland   37 1352 274  519         153 197  251 106  65 113  33  34  701
85-86 Maryland   32 1185 267  491         209 242  224  90  33  89  14  27  743
TOTALS          131 4302 838 1562   3  11 470 591  745 332 168 283  87  84 2149

                  MIN   FG%   3P%   FT%  RPG  APG  TPG  BPG  SPG   PPG
82-83 Maryland   22.0  47.8  27.3  63.6  4.2  0.7  1.1  0.5  0.3   7.2
83-84 Maryland   34.5  56.7        76.7  4.5  1.5  1.5  0.8  0.4  15.3
84-85 Maryland   36.5  52.8        77.7  6.8  1.8  3.1  0.9  0.9  18.9
85-86 Maryland   37.0  54.4        86.4  7.0  1.0  2.8  0.4  0.8  23.2
TOTALS           32.8  53.6  27.3  79.5  5.7  1.3  2.2  0.7  0.6  16.4

Unanimous 1st Team All-American, 1986... Consensus 2nd Team All-American,
1986... Selected by Boston Celtics in 1st round (#2 pick overall) of 1986 NBA


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Len Bias

NBA Debut: n/a

Final Game: n/a

Years in League: n/a

Teams: Boston Celtics

Career Statistics

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Career Highlights

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College: University of Maryland

Date of Birth:

Place of Birth:

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