I don’t think I’m generally an emotional guy but I’ve found that part of the challenge I face with getting this site off the ground is that 25 years later, I’m still shaken.
I recorded the ESPN “30 for 30″ special, “Without Bias” on my DVR and yesterday I finally decided to watch it.
Why was it a struggle for me to watch it? I think a big part of it is that I still don’t want to accept that it really happened like that. For some reason, I think I would have more readily believed he was gone had Len died in a plane crash or from some killer disease or from a self-inflicted gunshot wound due to depression or even at the hands of an idiot criminal the way that Sean Taylor was taken from us.
Freak accidents, health issues, emotional/psychological troubles, and criminals are all parts of life that hit people that matter to us on a regular basis. We still feel the pain from our loss but our level of confusion is much lower.
I will always be perplexed by the way that a bad decision to party in the wrong way brought Len’s life to an end. So many people do so many stupid things (the image of a European singer who just canceled some tour dates because she can’t stay sober just flashed across my mind — she is well-known for substance abuse but somehow her heart still beats… for now) and do not die.
Professional and collegiate athletes often do stupid things like ride motorcycles without helmets (right, Ben?), get high, or even commit crimes — some petty and some very serious (I won’t pick on you again, Ben). Yet, they normally don’t die.
I guess this speaks to the invincibility almost all of us feel when we’re young — plus, Len looked like he was a superhero that just stepped out from the pages of a comic book. Before Shaq, before Howard, Len Bias was Superman! I can still see him soaring high up into the air off two feet and swatting opponents shots but what impressed me the most is that everything I saw him do looked effortless.
It was like watching Bolt sprinting against… actually, it was more like me playing basketball with 12-year-olds.
I could go on and on reminiscing. There’s plenty of time for that later. Let me wrap this up…
I cried through most of “Without Bias” and I think the fact that I get so broken up about this tragedy is one big reason why I’ve not allocated the time to build up this site.
I’d really like to do things like interview Len’s parents but I’ve yet to pursue that because I’ve yet to accept the death of my sports hero.
Something just happened that I didn’t expect. It seems that finally typing out my feelings — feelings that I’ve had for a quarter century — has resulted in a change in my attitude. I know I sound silly but I have continued to refuse to believe that Len really died that day in that way. Twenty-five years later, I have finally allowed my heart to accept what my head has been trying to tell me — Len Bias, the greatest basketball player I may ever see, died on June 19, 1986, less than five miles away from where I slept peacefully at home, as a result of a stupid decision to defile his temple with drugs.