Video: NBA What If's (Trades, Shots, Injuries, Len Bias, & more)
Boston Celtics 1986 #2 overall draft pick Len Bias is featured in this new in-depth video on many of the greatest NBA What If's of all-time. The two hour plus video was created by Jonny Arnett and he also provided the following convenient time stamps.
The Top 10 RUINED Potentials of All Time 0:17
The Greatest “What If” Shots 12:41
How the NBA Ruined The Suns Chances 20:33
Top 10 INSANE Trades That ALMOST Happened 29:54
What If They Played The Whole Game? 40:18
What if Every Legend Played Wilt Minutes? 51:59 UPDATED
The Tragic and Confusing legacy of Tracy McGrady 58:21
5 Buzzer Beaters that the Refs got WRONG 01:09:30
The Great What If: Grant Hill 01:16:35
How Good Would Len Bias Have Been? 01:22:37
If ABA Achievements Counted... 01:30:19
The Near RIVAL to Bill Russell, Maurice Stokes. 01:37:18
Would the Bulls have won in 1999? 01:47:28
5 What Ifs That Make the NBA Better. 01:59:01
The above video makes a solid companion piece to our All-Coulda Been team piece and video from a few months back.
I believe if Len Bias had lived, Bird and the Celtics not only win those last two Lakers championships, but the Pistons' ones as well. And in the 90's Bias' Celtics would have given Jordan's Bulls a run for their money.
You'll recall that Kevin McHale's career took a hit after he was forced to play heavy minutes on a broken foot in 1987. He wouldn't have needed to if Bias was there to play 30 minutes as a rookie. Most experts say McHale having to play through that injury shortened his peak and NBA career.
And then without Bias, Bird had to shoulder the load of the team more which expedited his retirement due to back injuries. What I'm saying is if Bias had lived, it's not out of the realm of possibility to believe that Bird and McHale could have played into the mid 90's and had still been elite in the early 90's.
A better Bird and McHale in the early 90's to combine with young All-Stars in Len Bias and Reggie Lewis would have been as good as the Bulls in my opinion. Plus you still had Parish who was still an All-Star in the 1989-90 and 1990-91 seasons and the Celtics would have been stacked. And oh yeah, you don't need to trade make the Danny Ainge (and Brad Lohaus) for Ed Pinckney (and Joe Kleine) trade if you already had Bias, since you already would have had the athletic forward you needed in Len.
The Celtics most likely don't draft Michael Smith in 1989 since you already had Bias and Bird at that position. Three of the next four picks after Smith which would have also been more positions of need were all-star big man Shawn Kemp and point guards Tim Hardaway and Dana Barros.
But let's say Boston still drafted Smith for some odd reason. Do the Bulls win their first 3 titles against these guys?
Bird (healthier back due to not having to carry the load his final 6 yrs in the NBA)
McHale (healthier due to not shortening his peak/career due to having to play on a broken foot in 1987)
Parish (still an All-Star)
Ainge (Key bench piece in 1992 and 1993 NBA Finals)
Brian Shaw, Dennis Johnson, John Bagley, and Dee Brown
You get the point. The Celtics wouldn't have been stuck on 16 titles until 2008. And in my opinion when people say the Celtics would have won another title or two if Bias lived, they are way underrating his loss. Even if he didn't reach his potential as an All-NBA 1st team/franchise talent and was let's say a James Worthy type forward talent instead, you can't tell me the Lakers or Pistons are beating the Celtics those last 4 years in the 80's.
Even in Larry Bird's last season in 1992, the Celtics looked elite for good chunks of campaign. They finished that season nqinning their final 8bregular season games and then swept the Pacers in the 1st round. With Bird not having the miles he had to put on without Bias, his body doesn't break down then and force him to retire at the age of 35.
Let's say you give the nod to the Bulls in regard to their two best players in Jordan and Pippen vs Bias and Bird. Bulls next three are Horace Grant and role players in Cartwright and Paxson. Celtics next three 90's all-stars in Lewis, McHale, and Parish. Ainge, Shaw, and Brown were better than the Bulls 6-8 as well.
Even with a lesser workload which have kept their peaks longer and extended their careers Bird and McHale wouldn't have lasted that many years past their respective retirements following the 1992 and 1993 seasons. Plus Lewis tragically died following the 1993 season. So in terms of Celtics would if's with Bias, I focus on his first seven season, which the Lakers, Pistons, and Bulls won.
Would Boston have won all 7 of those years (for 8 in a row) and have rivaled Russell's Celtics dominance? Doubtful. Things (Injuries) happen. But 4-6 of those years would have been Boston's in my honest opinion. So that puts the Celtics at 20-22 championships after 1993. Knocks the Lakers down to just 4 (Not counting the Minneapolis ones the team didn't even count until Kobe/Shaq started winning rings and L.A. decided that even though they won't retire any of the Minneapolis players' numbers it would be convenient to count their 5 titles).
And then who knows after 1993. With all that recent dominance it would have been shocking to see the Celtics as the premier free agent spot to attract another star to play with Bias. Maybe players like Shaq, McGrady, Hill, and Duncan strongly consider the Celtics in free agency as they've completely owned the NBA and the Celtics never stop winning titles.
One thing that's for sure is had Bias lived the Celtics would have considerably more than one title in the last 37 years. Biggest would if in NBA history.