On June 19, 1986, the second pick of the NBA draft that year, Len Bias, died of a cocaine overdose. I remember hearing the news. I worked as a reporter at the time for KAHI/KHYL radio in Auburn & Sacramento. It was a story. It was sad, but it was hardly shocking to me that a young black man would make a stupid decision that would cost him his life. I went to a white high school, Placer, and when we played the black school, Grant, many of the Grant students would come over to our side of the bleachers and try to pick fights. I remember living in Baltimore in the summer of 1980, when I was 14, and how black kids would yell epithets at me simply because I was white. I knew they had a high crime rate and that it made no sense to be around this criminally inclined people.
I just watched ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on Len Bias, called Without Bias. There’s not a whiff of criticism of Len Bias in the movie. Yeah, he used drugs and that was silly, but Len Bias was a wonderful man. I don’t regard people who use drugs as victims.