Posts Tagged ‘Len Bias’

Maryland basketball star Len Bias: remembering ACC great who died 26 years ago

July 8, 2012

The poster is old and wrinkled, gathering dust. Len Bias is slamming home one of his ferocious dunks. The caption reads, “I’m Bias. Maryland is number one.”

It has been 26 years since Maryland basketball superstar Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose in a dorm room. Bias’ sudden death became the biggest story in the history of Washington, D.C. area sports, and one of the biggest news stories in the city’s history. How could such a seemingly invincible player be gone all of a sudden, just two days after being drafted second overall in the 1986 draft by the Boston Celtics?

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.
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25 best Maryland Terps of the modern era: Bias, Dixon, Lucas, Williams

March 10, 2012
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The University of Maryland basketball program has produced some of the greatest players not only in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference, but in all of college basketball. Below is my subjective list of the Top 25 Terps since 1970 (which includes the eras of Lefty Driesell and Gary Williams) first published March 24, 2010. See the updated list on Bleacher Report.

  1. Len Bias
  2. Juan Dixon
  3. John Lucas
  4. Walt Williams
  5. Tom McMillen
  6. Buck Williams
  7. Joe Smith
  8. Albert King
  9. Len Elmore
  10. Greivis Vasquez
  11. Keith Booth
  12. Steve Blake
  13. Ernest Graham
  14. Brad Davis
  15. Adrian Branch
  16. Lonny Baxter
  17. Steve Francis
  18. Greg Manning
  19. Johnny Rhodes
  20. Keith Gatlin
  21. Mo Howard
  22. Steve Sheppard
  23. Derrick Lewis
  24. Chris Wilcox
  25. Larry Gibson

Honorable Mention:  Jeff Adkins (‘81-‘85), Lawrence Boston (’75-78), Owen Brown (‘72-‘75), Evers Burns (’89-93), Nik Caner-Medley (‘02-‘06), Ben Coleman (‘82-‘84), Obinna Ekezie (’95-‘99), Rodney Elliott (‘94-‘98), John Gilchrist (‘02-‘05), James Gist (‘04-‘08), Eric Hayes (‘06-‘10), Will Hetzel (1967-70), Exree Hipp (‘92-‘96), Tahj Holden (’99-03), Ekene Ibekwe (‘03-‘07), Sarunas Jasikevicius (‘94-‘98), Cedric Lewis (’87-91), Tony Massenburg (‘85-‘90), Kevin McLinton (’89-’93), Chris McCray (‘02-‘06), Landon Milbourne (’06-’10), Dutch Morley (‘78-‘82), Terence Morris (‘97-‘01), Sean Mosley (‘08-’12), Byron Mouton (‘00-‘02), Jerrod Mustaf (‘88-‘90), Drew Nicholas (‘99-‘03), Jim O’Brien (‘70-‘73), Laron Profit (‘95-’99), Duane Simpkins (‘94-‘98), Terrell Stoglin (‘10-’12), Terrell Stokes (‘95-‘99), Terell Stoglin (’10-’12),  D.J. Strawberry (‘03-‘07), Herman Veal (’80-84), Jordan Williams (’09-’11).

This list was first published on March 24, 2010.

Washington Post fails to mention 25th anniversary of death of Len Bias, ignoring biggest D.C. sports story ever

June 19, 2011

The Washington Post has ignored the 25th anniversary of the death of Maryland basketball star Len Bias.  It’s only the biggest D.C. sports story ever.  A few days ago they ran a story by Dave Ungrady urging Maryland to put Bias in its athletic Hall of Fame, but other than that, the Bias story barely got a mention here:

“Today is Sunday, June 19, the 170th day of 2011. There are 195 days left in the year. This is Father’s Day.”  They proceed to mention one sentence about Bias.  Then they mention today’s birthdays.  I love how they say “there are 195 days left in the year.”  Thanks.  This is what radio stations in Podunk, Iowa do.

The Post’s sports page used to be great.  They still have good beat writers, and Jason Reid is an excellent columnist who writes clearly and strongly, without name dropping or using “I” 100 times per article like Mike Wise.  But for such a good paper the sports page is lacking.

Whatever happened to the Washington Times sports page with great writers like Thom Loverro, Dave Elfin, Dick Heller, and Dan Daly?  You could always count on them.

Anyway, maybe they did something on Bias and it’s just impossible to find.  But I think it shows gross negligence to completely ignore the 25th anniversary of Bias’ death.  Though Mike Wilbon got very arrogant in the past few years, he would have probably done an article if he were still employed by the Post.  And where is John Feinstein? It’s not too late for him to do something in the next week.  All these guys have become big stars – that’s part of the problem.

The Post’s coverage of Bias’ death was excellent. A quarter century later, they are asleep at the wheel.

To see my Examiner.com article on the death of Len Bias, published today, click here.

25 years ago Maryland basketball player Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose

June 19, 2011

The grave of Len Bias. Photo by Mike Frandsen

Twenty-five years ago today something happened that was so shocking that it was hard to fathom that it really took place.

On June 19, 1986, University of Maryland basketball player Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose.

The scene that morning, as documented in news reports, was surreal and tragic as family members and teammates learned the news after gathering at Leland Memorial Hospital in Riverdale, Maryland.

Kirk Fraser recounted the story of Bias’ death in an ESPN documentary, 30 for 30: Without Bias.

It was like a nightmare that seems so real and then you wake up.  Only this was real.  It haunts Maryland fans to this day.

Bias was not only the best player ever at Maryland, he was the greatest player in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was better than Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, David Thompson, and Ralph Sampson. Bias was a power forward with the strength of a center, the quickness of a small forward and the touch of a shooting guard. But that doesn’t come close to telling the story.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Remembering Len Bias: Former Terrapin basketball superstar died of a cocaine overdose 24 years ago

June 19, 2010

The photo from this Washington Post article on Bias during his junior year is faded, but memories of Bias remain for Maryland fans.

Twenty-four years ago today something happened that was so shocking that it was hard to fathom that it really took place.

On June 19, 1986, University of Maryland basketball player Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose.

The scene that morning, as documented in news reports, was surreal and tragic as family members and teammates learned the news after gathering at Leland Memorial Hospital in Riverdale.

Kirk Fraser recounted the story of Bias’ death in an ESPN documentary, 30 for 30: Without Bias.

See the rest of my article at Examiner.com here.

See highlights of Bias here.

Top 25 Maryland Terrapin basketball players of modern era: Where does Vasquez rank?

March 28, 2010

Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez finished his career last Sunday as the second-leading scorer in Terrapins history and also ranks highly in several other categories.  Where does Vasquez rank among Maryland’s all-time greats?

Vasquez led Maryland to three NCAA tournament first round wins, but never made it to the Sweet 16.  He had some incredible clutch moments but was inconsistent at times.  Most of all, Vasquez was a great all-around player and leader who played with a lot of heart and left it all on the floor.

Here is a subjective look at the top 25 Maryland Terrapins basketball players since 1970, along with honorable mentions.  Why 1970? Maryland had many great players before ’70, most notably All-Americans Louis Berger in the 1930s and Gene Shue in the 1950s.  But when Coach Lefty Driesell arrived in 1969, he ushered in a new era, leading Maryland to national prominence.  Teams led by Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, and John Lucas in the early ‘70s were among the best in the country.

  1. Len Bias, small forward/power forward, 1982-1986.  Bias could do it all.  It’s still hard to find a player today, college or pro, who compares favorably with Bias.  With otherworldly, supreme athleticism, he could take it to the basket, shoot jumpers, defend, rebound, block shots and pass.  Bias took over games with ruthless competitiveness…Improved every season, averaging 23.2 points in ‘86…Two-time ACC Player of the Year…Named ACC tournament MVP in ‘84…Consensus first-team All-American in ‘86…Played in four NCAA tournaments, reaching Sweet 16 twice…Second player picked in ‘86 NBA draft…Best and most exciting player in Maryland history.  Greatest player in ACC history (slightly ahead of Christian Laettner and Michael Jordan).
  2. Juan Dixon, shooting guard, ‘98-‘02.  Excelled at mid-range jumpers, three-pointers, defense, and steals and played with a lot of heart…Team leader brought Maryland to back to back Final Fours including its only national championship in ’02, and was named first-team All-American…Earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the ‘02 Final Four, averaging 25.8 points in NCAA tournament that year…Was Maryland’s all-time leader in scoring and three-pointers and second in steals…Averaged 20 points a game in ‘02…Led team to 109 wins in four seasons.
  3. John Lucas, point guard, ‘72-‘76.  Master at creating shots for himself and his teammates, running a Terp offense that averaged 90 points a game in ‘75, before the advent of the three-point shot…Three-time All-American led Maryland to the Elite Eight in ‘73 and ‘75 seasons…First freshman to play on the Maryland varsity…Averaged more than 19 points each of his last three seasons…Number one overall pick in the 1976 NBA draft.
  4. Walt Williams, shooting guard/small forward/point guard, ‘88-‘92.  It’s not an exaggeration to say the “Wizard” saved the Maryland program when he decided to stay after the Terps were put on NCAA probation from ’91-‘93…In ‘92, Williams averaged a school-record 26.8 points per game, and also had 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.1 steals…Named All-American senior year when he scored more than 30 points in seven straight ACC games.
  5. Tom McMillen, center, ‘71-‘74.  Rangy left-handed big man had a crafty scoring and rebounding touch and was an intelligent player who became a Rhodes Scholar…Three-time All-American averaged 20.5 points and 9.8 rebounds during his three-year career…Led Maryland to the Elite Eight in ’73 and season-ending #4 ranking in ‘74…Member of ‘72 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team.
  6. Buck Williams, center, ‘78-‘81.  The 6-8 Williams consistently outplayed Virginia’s 7-4 three-time College Player of the Year Ralph Sampson…Scored 15.5 points per game his final two years and averaged 10.9 rebounds for his career, leading the ACC in rebounding twice…Holds team record for best shooting percentage in a season (64.7% in ‘81)…Selected to the ‘80 USA Olympic basketball team.
  7. Joe Smith, center, ‘93-‘95.  Athletic center dominated the ACC his sophomore year…Won ‘95College Player of the Year award…Averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds for his two-year career…Terps made Sweet 16 in both his seasons after five-year NCAA drought…Drafted number one overall in ‘95 NBA draft.
  8. Albert King, small forward, ‘77-‘81.  King had a silky smooth jump shot and quick moves to the basket…Two-time All-American was named ACC Player of the Year in ‘80, averaging 21.7 points…Was Maryland’s fourth all-time leading scorer and best rebounder for a non-center/power forward.
  9. Len Elmore, power forward, ‘71-‘74.  Named first-team All-American in ‘74…Maryland’s all-time leading rebounder, averaged 14.7 rebounds in ‘74…Along with McMillen, led Maryland to 73-17 record in his three seasons…Cerebral player later earned law degree from Harvard.
  10. Keith Booth, power forward, ‘93-‘97.  Averaged 19.5 points as a senior, made more free throws than any player in Terp history and ranks sixth on Maryland’s all-time rebounding list despite being only 6-4 and playing power forward…Played a key role in Maryland’s resurgence to NCAA tournament after five-year absence…Decision to attend Maryland opened pipeline for other Baltimore players to play for the Terps.
  11. Greivis Vasquez, shooting guard, ‘06-‘10.  Scored from inside and out, also an excellent passer and rebounder for his size…Only player in ACC history with 2,000 points, 700 assists, and 600 rebounds…Was voted ‘10 ACC Player of the Year…Maryland’s second all-time leading scorer…Only Terrapin basketball player to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists in a single season…Had triple double in win vs. eventual national champion North Carolina junior year…Scored 10 points in final two minutes of final college game, an NCAA second round loss to Michigan State.
  12. Steve Blake, point guard, ‘99-‘03.  Started on two Final Four teams including ‘02 championship winning squad…Played withgreat quickness, threading the needle on many fast break passes, and was a skilled three-point shooter…Became the firstACC player to record 1,000 points, 800 assists, 400 rebounds and 200 steals… Averaged seven assists per game over his career…Started Maryland record 136 games.
  13. Brad Davis, point guard, ‘74-‘77.  Elite point guard was an adept passer who was also a solid scorer…Led Terps to Elite Eight in ‘75 season…Led Maryland in assists three years in a row including ’75 and ’76 when he played with Lucas…Averaged 5.9
    assists in ’76…Two-time all-ACC selection.
  14. Ernest Graham, shooting guard/small forward, ‘77-‘81.  Third star alongside King and Buck Williams could drive to the hoop and hit the outside jumper…Still holds Terps record for most points in a game with 44 vs. N.C. State in ’78…Led Terps in assists junior and senior seasons.
  15. Adrian Branch, small forward, ‘81-‘85.  Led Maryland in scoring two seasons…One of the best pure shooters ever to play at Maryland…Fifth on Terps all-time scoring list and also led Terps in steals two seasons…Two-time all-ACC selection…In ’84, led Maryland to its first ACC tournament title in 26 years.
  16. Lonny Baxter, center, ‘98-‘02.  At 6-7, outplayed many bigger players…Along with Dixon and Blake, led Maryland to national championship win in ’02…Named first-team All-American in ‘02.  Ranks second on Maryland’s all-time rebounding list and seventh in scoring…Named all-conference three seasons.
  17. Steve Francis, shooting guard, ’98-‘99.  All-around player who could score, pass, and rebound and had unbelievable explosion to the basket…Named to All-American team…Led Terps to season-ending number five ranking.  Averaged 17 points, 4.5 assists, and 2.8 steals per game in his single season with Terps…Picked second overall in the ’99 NBA draft.
  18. Greg Manning, shooting guard, ‘77-‘81…Great pure shooter who could also penetrate to the basket for layups…Shot an unheard of (for a guard) 64.3% from the field in ’80 when he was named to the all-ACC team…Was also good at distributing to teammates.
  19. Keith Gatlin, point guard, ‘83-‘88.  Rangy point guard could pass and score with style…Ranks second all-time among Terps in assists and averaged 7.7 assists in NCAA tournament…Part of four NCAA tournament teams.
  20. Mo Howard, shooting guard ‘72-’76.  An excellent shooter who was part of teams that won 80% of their games (92-23)…Led Maryland in field goal percentage twice…Named all-ACC in ’75.
  21. Johnny Rhodes, shooting guard, ’92-’96.  Maryland’s all-time steals leader averaged an incredible 3.7 per game in ‘96 and led Terps in steals each of his four seasons…Best rebounder of all guards who played at Maryland… Part of teams that went to Sweet 16 in back-to-back seasons after Terps missed NCAA tournament for five seasons…A defensive specialist, Rhodes still averaged 16.7 points in ‘97.
  22. Derrick Lewis, center, ‘84-‘88.  Phenomenal block shot artist who excelled on the defensive side of the ball…Once had 12 blocks in a game and still holds the Terps’ record for most blocks in a career…Averaged 4.4 blocks per game in ‘87 (younger brother Cedric averaged 5.5 in ‘91!)…Also led Terps in steals for three seasons.
  23. Steve Sheppard, small forward, ‘74-’77.  Led Terps in scoring in ’77, averaging more than 16 points per game…Played on gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic team in ’76…Shot 53% from the field for his career.
  24. Chris Wilcox, power forward, ’00-‘02.  Athletic power forward started on national championship team, outplaying Kansas’ Drew Gooden in Final Four and Indiana’s Jared Jeffries in final…Averaged 12 points and seven rebounds sophomore year.
  25. Larry Gibson, center, ’75-‘79.  Led Terps in rebounding and blocked shots three consecutive seasons, also was a solid scoring threat.

Honorable Mention:  Jeff Adkins (‘81-‘85), Lawrence Boston (’75-78), Owen Brown (‘72-‘75), Evers Burns (’89-93), Nik Caner-Medley (‘02-‘06), Ben Coleman (‘82-‘84), Obinna Ekezie (’95-‘99), Rodney Elliott (‘94-‘98), John Gilchrist (‘02-‘05), James Gist (‘04-‘08), Eric Hayes (‘06-‘10), Will Hetzel (1967-70), Exree Hipp (‘92-‘96), Tahj Holden (’99-03), Ekene Ibekwe (‘03-‘07), Sarunas Jasikevicius (‘94-‘98), Cedric Lewis (’87-91), Tony Massenburg (‘85-‘90), Kevin McLinton (’89-’93), Chris McCray (‘02-‘06), Dutch Morley (‘78-‘82), Terence Morris (‘97-‘01), Byron Mouton (‘00-‘02), Jerrod Mustaf (‘88-‘90), Drew Nicholas (‘99-‘03), Jim O’Brien (‘70-‘73), Laron Profit (‘95-’99), Duane Simpkins (‘94-‘98), Terrell Stokes (‘95-‘99),  D.J. Strawberry (‘03-‘07), Herman Veal (’80-84).

You can also see this article at www.examiner.com – search on “Mike Frandsen” in the search box.