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What if Len Bias and Reggie Lewis didn’t fall victim to tragedy?

lien bias reggie lewis

Back in 1991 at the age of eight, I was just a fledgling sports fan. Watching TV one night, I came across the Celtics playing Michael Jordan and the Bulls. This is the night I became a Celtics fan, watching Larry Bird at the end of his career is something I remember, but didn’t appreciate at the time. Although I recall the Celts were losing by a large margin, another player caught my eye. That player was Reggie Lewis, and he was my first favorite NBA baller.
I vividly remember the night Lewis collapsed on court in a first round playoff game against the Charlotte Hornets in 1993, even though I was only 10 then. Lewis, against the recommendations of several doctors after the collapse, kept playing basketball and passed away at the age of 27 in July of 1993 after collapsing again after a practice session. The cause was  hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition found  commonly found among young athletes who have died in a similar fashion. At the time of his death, Reggie was a rising star in the NBA, averaging 20.8 points a game and was primed to become the Celtics leader throughout the decade.

It was only after Lewis’ death that I became a more in-depth fan, and learned that another promising young Celtics player had passed away only several years earlier before ever playing a game in the NBA. His name was Len Bias, and this quote by Boston scout Ed Badger sums up the potential he possessed:

“He’s maybe the closest thing to Michael Jordan to come out in a long time. I’m not saying he’s as good as Michael Jordan, but he’s an explosive and exciting kind of player like that.”
Bias was the ACC Player and Athlete of the Year in 1986  while playing for the University of Maryland. The Celtics selected him 2nd overall in the 1986 NBA Draft.
Sadly, Bias passed away at the age of 22 in his dorm room on June 19th, 1986, two days after the draft. His death was due to an apparent cocaine overdose that led to cardiac arrhythmia. This got me to thinking, what if these two weren’t the victims of such tragedies? What would the Celtics of the 90′s looked like had these two young men gotten a chance to play together?
Lewis was a 1992 All-Star selection, and I have no doubt that Bias would have had similar, if not more, success.. He was described as one of those “can’t miss” prospects, and I firmly believe the Celtics would have never declined had these guys been leading the team throughout the 90′s. Anytime a player is even mentioned comparable to Michael Jordan like Bias was, it leaves little room to question if he would have flourished as a pro.
The overall circumstance is deeply saddening. Seeing young athletes fall victim to such tragedies is disheartening, and similar occurrences have taken place throughout history in every facet at all levels of sports. Now being a more knowledgeable fan, I am sure I am not the only member of the Celtics Nation to ask “what could have been?”
Reggie Lewis and Len Bias, two of the best who never realized their full potential. One never even saw the NBA hardwood. Rest in peace, fellas.

Source : Sportskings-Jim Racalto
10.20.2011 09:00
This article has been read a total of 3833 times.
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