Tuesday, November 3, 2009

30 in 30, Len Bias, and Kevin Durant

I planned on doing another link dump but I ran across this excellent article on Len Bias that I wanted to share.

In light of ESPN's 30 in 30 featuring Bias tonight I wanted to say a few things concerning this inconic NBA "player" (since he never played a minute in the league).

I hope you all have taken advantage of the NBA TV Channel that comes with most standard packages and enjoyed the "Fan Night" promotion they run every Tuesday. Fan Night allows fans to vote online for the NBA game that NBA TV will show for the prime time game of the night. Fan Night features commentary by TNT's Ernie Johnson, Chris Webber (Under rated in his analysis skills), and Kevin McHale as the in studio talent. I recommend tuning in some time as they always have great games, like the Lakers vs. a sneaky good Thunder team matchup tonight.

I mention this particular game because it features Kevin Durant who most reminds me of Len Bias from the current generation. Durant was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2007, 23 years after Len Bias died. Durant has been lauded as a new breed of basketball player, one that posses a rare size and agility package. A player that has the height to post up in the paint but also the shooting and ball handling ability to play on the perimeter. If not for a night of bad decisions back in 1984, the new breed would have come along more than two decades ago.

Len Bias was going to be the new breed, the player that would change the game. He was 6'8", 210 lbs, with freakish athleticism that allowed him to freelance his way to the basket but also the fundamental skills to make his teammates better and play the game the right way.

Bias was drafted by the Celtics during Larry Bird's reign as one of the best 3 basketball players on the planet, and would have been a natural teacher for Bias to learn from. With Bird's input there's no doubt Bias would have developed the outside touch that was seemingly the only slight weakness in Bias's game. Bird would probably have helped hone Bias's killer instinct that made Bird such an assassin.

Unfortunately for all fans of the NBA Len Bias decided to celebrate his draft selection by the Celtics by using cocaine with some friends. It is reportedly Bias's only time ever using cocaine, but things went terribly wrong. In the end Bias would be found dead and the basketball world would be robbed of a new era.

I'm thankful for the societal changes that have opened our eyes to the dangers of drugs and abusing them. Len Bias's death robbed us of his brilliance, but it just might have given us Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant because of the lesson it taught us all.

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