30 Years in 30 Days: The 30 years since Len Bias died & the impact it's had on the Celtics
I’m happy…elated…I can’t wait. What else can I say? I’m in the NBA. I dreamed to play for Boston. - Len Bias, June 17, 1986
In the 30 days leading up to the 30th anniversary of Len Bias' death, the one that drastically changed the history of the NBA, we're going to give you an up-close and personal look into Len's short life, his unfortunate death and a bunch of little known stories about his legacy. Each day, the article will post at 8:50 AM, the time Len was pronounced dead. You’ll get to see a bunch of photos you may not have seen before and some, showing an alternate line of what NBA history may have looked like had Len lived.
Where did I come up with this idea? I’ve been working on this assignment for the better part of the past two years. It hasn’t been hard to describe the impetus behind the project. At its essence, the Boston Celtics were one of the premier franchises in professional sports in the 30 seasons leading up to Bias’ selection. In the 30 years since, bad-luck, mediocre drafting and poor general management have transitioned the Celtics from a preeminent franchise in sports to a relative NBA afterthought. That’s what happens when you win 16 titles in 30 years and follow that up by winning 1 title in the next 30 years.
92 Eastern Conference Semis vs Cleveland & Mark Price may have turned out differently had Lenny lived
Even just look at Len’s quote: “I dreamed to play for Boston.” When’s the last time you heard a player say that?
Sometimes I think about the contrast between what it was like being a Celtics’ fan in the 80s to what it’s become today and just how strikingly different the two experiences are.
Bias’ death can be pinpointed as the moment in time the direction of the franchise changed. Anyone around from back then will confirm it.
CelticsLife would like to thank the following people, without whose help this segment would absolutely not have taken place. In no particular order: Dave Ungrady author of Born Ready: The Mixed Legacy of Len Biaswhich is an essential read for any Bias or Celtics fan; Anne Turkos at the University of Maryland; Gerry Corcoran former Northeastern star and Celtics’ draft pick; Ryan Bowles and Amanda Kate Hawk and the rest of the wonderful staff at the University of Maryland Special Collections and University Archives; Matt Baron of Inside Edge PR and his friend Todd Klock; Emily Dufton author of the pending book Grassroots: How America’s Marijuana Activists Launched the Battle For Legalization and Shaped the Modern War on Drugs; Michael Hamel author of Pride and Passion: The 80s Era in the NBA. Also a big shout-out to CelticsLife's own Edwin Khu for his graphics; without his superb artistic work, these articles would likely only get a portion of the views they ultimately will. And lastly to CelticsLife's own Topher Grace for his outstanding ability to mix Len's highlights with a great song, for the ultimate video tribute.
Take that Danny
So for the next 30 days, I hope you enjoy this segment. Let the "what if" scenarios play out in your head and feel free to comment on each article about the greatest Celtic that never was. And maybe with the Celtics landing the #3 pick the other day off a similar-smart trade, the next 30 seasons will start off on the right foot. Who knows, maybe they'll even win 16 more titles the next 30 years reestablishing themselves as the premier franchise in basketball and this entire "Bias curse" will go away for good. One can certainly dream.