“It was a sad day for the entire sport of basketball. We lost one of the best players of that era.” : Remembering Len Bias, on the twentieth anniversary of his death.
posted by Ufez Jones to basketball at 01:45 PM - 70 comments
Also, David Steele wrote a very nice column for the Baltimore Sun.
posted by Ufez Jones at 01:49 PM on June 19
I was living in the dorms at the University of Maryland next door to Len's when this happened. It was a dark day when the campus learned of Len's death.
posted by scully at 02:06 PM on June 19
For a little bit of a different twist to the story, see this link for a perspective on how Bias' death impacted the war on drugs at the federal level. Here's an excerpt from the book quoted in the above link: "In life, Len Bias was a terrific basketball player. In death, he would become the Archduke Ferdinand of the Total War on Drugs. "
posted by holden at 02:26 PM on June 19
I remember where I was when I heard the news the way my folks remember Kennedy. So do all my friends. I remember how excited Larry Bird was to teach him, too. Shit almost makes me cry again.
posted by Hugh Janus at 02:48 PM on June 19
What I remember about Len Bias was the Cocaine related heart attack, and the immediate response of the media of "He only tried it once, and it killed him." This led to the paranoia that if your kid tried Crack once, he'd die from an overdose. Later on it was revealed that he was not only a heavy user, but also a dealer. However, we have Len Bias to thank for Mandatory Minimum Sentencing. Question: Why does noone bring up the angle that he might have been using Roids? He was heavy into illegal drugs... So maybe Len wasn't as talented as he was slick. Anyway, Sorry about what happened to him, but I'm alot more P.O.'ed about what happened to my country because of him.
posted by LostInDaJungle at 02:51 PM on June 19
Not me. I'm not crying over this. Happens all the time. I mean, sure his job was a little different than the norm, but that was not a tragedy. Unfortunate for sure, but it's not like this guy was taking relief aid to Nicaragua, his plane crashed and he gave his parachute to the orphans. If his legacy ends up being the hysteria that was/is the War on Drugs (which has to rank as one of the all-time stupidest names for anything, let alone the actual policy) than well, thanks for nothing Len Bias.
posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:57 PM on June 19
Why the fuck would you watch sports, if not to admire the stars? Particularly when you're a little kid? So the guy's the biggest thing to come out of Maryland since Spiro Agnew, and he's a terrific athlete, and it just happens he's hiding a drug habit (just like they do in the NBA) and nobody finds out about it until he's dead, and you're gonna piss on him (and people who memorialize him 20 years later) because his death was demagogued into a bad, misinformed drug policy? He was a hero, the way you have heroes in sports. And he died all of a sudden, shattering a lot of peoples' (particularly kids') hopes. "Thanks for nothing, Len Bias." "[H]is job was a little different from the norm... not a tragedy." Sports heroes are pretty insignificant to you. What the fuck kind of sports fan are you? And why would you visit a memorial just to leave your two cents worth of disrespect?
posted by Hugh Janus at 03:11 PM on June 19
It's not a memorial. It's a sports discussion website. Go build a memorial website. I won't piss on it, that wouldn't be polite. But don't call me out for not being an echo chamber. I don't think Len Bias is a tragic figure, I think he's a drug addict who paid the big price. He's not my hero. Sorry for not spouting some crappy bullshit about lamented youth and wasted potential. I feel the same way about Bryan Fogarty. Explain to me why his life should be given more value then the drug addicts I've buried. Because he was good at basketball? It's no tragedy and he's no victim. And If not getting all soggy-eyed at the 20th anniversary of the death of Len Bias makes me a bad sports fan, well, then I don't want in your club. I mean, all this stuff starts sounding like the second coming of Jordan in retrospect. The truth is, he never played an NBA game and if he has any legitimate legacy it's that athletes are not invincible.
posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:27 PM on June 19
I just have to say that it frightens me a bit to think that this actually happened TWENTY years ago!!! I guess the mid-teens really must've been my formative years since I too remember this vividly. Calling Bias the "Archduke Ferdinand of the Total War on Drugs" speaks volumes to the import of sport stars to (North) American culture. Regardless of how he is remembered---as either the victim of first-time use, or as an incredibly talented player hiding a drug habit---it shouldn't change the fact that his life and death impacted the world outside of the hardwood in a BIG way.
posted by Spitztengle at 03:34 PM on June 19
Weedy, while I admit that the Len Bias story touched me personally in many ways, I'm more than willing to back your critical perspective on this as well. It is needed and open, critical debate is a good thing ... especially about "the 'war' on drugs".
posted by Spitztengle at 03:38 PM on June 19
nicely put weedy
posted by steelcityguy at 03:40 PM on June 19
And lastly, if he was my favorite player and died of a cocaine overdose, I wouldn't just be sad. I'd be pissed off and feel let down. I'm sorry if this is offending people, I really am. I don't mean to marginalize you Terps fans, or Celtics fans who have nothing but bad luck since, but I read Scoop Jackson's piece which made Len Bias out to be Jesus Christ and it makes me wince. Everything is painted in this grossly irresponsible real American fantasy. It's pathetic and disingenuine. But I probably wrote too fast, so RIP Len Bias. He didn't seem like a bad dude.
posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:42 PM on June 19
the biggest thing to come out of Maryland since Spiro Agnew Not really a glowing comparison, since Mr. Agnew was a crook.
the biggest thing to come out of Maryland since Spiro Agnew
posted by kirkaracha at 03:44 PM on June 19
First of all, don't insult me with "sorry for not spouting..." shit; if you want to insult me, do it in a less disingenuous manner, and don't put words in my mouth. But now that those words are there, I will spout about the tragedian aspects of a story involving a superstar, headed for the top by all accounts, who has a secret, and that secret kills him. By the very nature of the story, it is a tragedy in the Aristotleian frame. That's all aside, though. I don't give a shit whether you get soggy-eyed, but a post that starts "“It was a sad day for the entire sport of basketball..." kind of calls for decorum rather than your narrow, self-interested view on how really the drug policy is wrong, and how Len Bias means jack shit to you, just like all the drug addicts you've buried. Hell, was I talking about Bias being demagagued into policy? Well, shit, I'd say part of his legacy is that he continues to be demagogued, now by you, to justify your opposition to the War on Drugs. Way to be, Weedy. No, it isn't a memorial; it's a discussion site. But you can't reasonably expect discussion, and you can reasonably expect anger, when the discussion goes like this: "Shit almost makes me cry again." "Not me. I'm not crying over this... that was not a tragedy.... thanks for nothing Len Bias."
posted by Hugh Janus at 03:50 PM on June 19
I am a huge Univ. of Maryland fan because I grew up in Baltimore. Even after I had moved to Georgia, I still loved the Terps. Len Bias was a man among boys when he played. Boston really missed out on a great player who could have taken them to many championships. RIP Len Bias. You are missed by many.
posted by dbt302 at 03:52 PM on June 19
Wow! What hyperbole! While agreeing that it is a tragedy that a loss of a young, talented lifes brings. I must disagree with most regarding the impact his death has had on all levels, besides that of a personal. The War on Drugs was going to happen with or without his death. The NBA has continued, and thrived, without his presence. Would he have become one of the greatest? Sure, why not. Could he have become a bust like soooo many other self appointed next "Great One"s. Sure, why not. But to wail & bemoan lost potential? I'd rather not, especially when there are soooo many other better causes to wail & bemoan, seconding the motion of Mr. Clemente's loss.
posted by RedStrike at 03:54 PM on June 19
I remember where I was when I heard the news the way my folks remember Kennedy. So do all my friends. That's right. One of the great American tragedies: Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy Assassination, 9/11......... AND LEN BIAS???????? Apparently, he's not the only one smoking crack.
posted by cjets at 03:57 PM on June 19
And on preview, I think I wrote too fast, too. All I know is that it was the first time I encountered sudden, surprising death, and that it hurt then, and it still hurts, and it's hard to be conciliatory in the face of harsh criticism like on this thread. But I let my rhetoric get the better of me. Mostly it just makes me sad. Sorry, Weedy. And cjets, for the record, I grew up in Maryland and I was twelve at the time. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing, and my friends all remember, and so inasmuch as it was the surprising death of a hero in whom we had invested our hopes, I can only compare it to the way my parents remember Kennedy: a vivid feeling of exactly where they were, what they were doing, and what their life was like at the moment of discovery. All the comparisons to American tragedies are your own, and I agree, they're inept.
posted by Hugh Janus at 04:04 PM on June 19
And cjets, for the record, I grew up in Maryland and I was twelve at the time. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing, and my friends all remember, and so inasmuch as it was the surprising death of a hero in whom we had invested our hopes, I can only compare it to the way my parents remember Kennedy: a vivid feeling of exactly where they were, what they were doing, and what their life was like at the moment o discovery. I'll give you this, Hugh, it makes much more sense. But still...I have vivid memories of the day Keith Moon and Kurt Cobain died but you would never catch me comparing them to the Kennedy Assassination. It's, as another writer put it, hyperbole. Maybe what offends so many of us is that this guy made the choice to smoke crack, apparently repeatedly. How many of us have dreamed of playing in the NBA (or NFL or MLB, etc.)? And to see a guy with such obvious talent just piss it all away on blow is infuriating. Especially when, from what I heard at the time, not only wasn't it the first time but he was doing his best Al Pacino "Scarface" imitation. Is that a guy I'm gonna grieve for? The best comparison I can make right now is Ben Roethlisberger. And riding a bike without a helmet is about 100 times smarter than smoking crack.
posted by cjets at 04:14 PM on June 19
he has any legitimate legacy it's that athletes are not invincible. Good stuff weedy. I admit I have never heard of Bias before, I think I may have been in 4th grade when this happened. But the story is far to common and familiar. I am a juvenil probation counselor and watching young people waste their lives is sad. I had a kid on my numbers a few years ago, 16 years old and could jump like no one I ever seen, not even on TV. He was about 6'2 and a good athlete. I bet him 20$ that he couldnt jump over my car(Honda Civic) and I lost. He was shot during a drug deal about six months later. Young people aren't supposed to die, every time a young person dies it is tragic.
posted by PGHTOS at 05:15 PM on June 19
"War On Drugs" is a pretty accurate representation of what is going on overseas and in Mexico in eradication efforts and at our borders in interdiction efforts. Military forces and strategies are being used, with Military sized budgets, and Military ethics. I think the name is correct, if not the policy, Weedy.
posted by mjkredliner at 05:27 PM on June 19
Because I was too young, I don't remember the Len Bias death personally very well. But I do remember Reggie Lewis vividly, but find understanding of the Bias in the sadness, the letdown, the disappointment of it all. I still have a Reggie Lewis jersey buried in the back of my closet. I can't get rid of it, but it depresses me to look at it. The bottom line is while it is sad, and it does happen everyday to regular families, it's a big fucking letdown when you see someone flush their life away on drugs - real life or sports-hero worship.
posted by jerseygirl at 05:28 PM on June 19
Weedy, you are the man. Len Bias had the world at his feet, and pissed all over himself. I have nothing but disgust for him, and people like him who have all the talent in the world, who throw it away for a momentary high. I can't think of anything to add to the terrific arguments and points you've brought to this discussion. As I read the article, I thought of just about everything you wrote, but, you beat me to it. To the people who call Bias' death a tragedy, they are so wrong. A child drowning in a backyard pool , or SIDS, or because they darted into traffic after a ball or their pet, THAT IS A TRAGEDY. Because an adult injests illegal narcotics into their system on purpose,and dies as a result, is the height of stupidy and selfishness, but far from a tragedy.
posted by tommytrump at 05:34 PM on June 19
To the people who call Bias' death a tragedy, they are so wrong. A child drowning in a backyard pool , or SIDS, or because they darted into traffic after a ball or their pet, THAT IS A TRAGEDY. Because an adult injests illegal narcotics into their system on purpose,and dies as a result, is the height of stupidy and selfishness, but far from a tragedy. I don't want to get all Webster's Dictionary on you, but none of those things you listed qualify as tragic. They are sad, but not tragic. Tragedy is when a person is brought to sorrow or ruin because of a flaw or weakness. Cocaine was Bias' ruin of choice. If you want to go Ann Coulter on Bias and say he got what he deserved, that's cool. But if you're going to start deciding what is and what isn't tragic, at least find out what the word means.
posted by forrestv at 07:04 PM on June 19
According to The American Heritage Dictionary: tragedy (n) a disastrous event, especially one including distressing loss or injury to life. From the same dictionary: tragic (adj) regrettably serious or unpleasant. I maintain that what i described as tragedies certainly meet definition requirements, so, before correcting someones knowledge of the English language, at least challenge yourself to check the definition first.
posted by tommytrump at 07:24 PM on June 19
Well, you say American Heritage, I say Webster's. But I'll respectfully disagree and say none of the things you mentioned are tragic. Just really, really sad.
posted by forrestv at 07:33 PM on June 19
And, yet, according to both Websters and American Heritage, it seems you would be wrong. It is a wonderful thing though that we can discuss this pleasantly and without rancor.
posted by tommytrump at 08:36 PM on June 19
Well, I'll still say Bias was a tragic figure along the lines of Gooden, Strawberry and Chris Herren. Guys who's addictive nature brought about their downfall. And you're right about the rancor thing. Over at SportingNews or CBS Sportsline, I would have already received virtual death threats.
posted by forrestv at 08:43 PM on June 19
To think that a few are arguing over the English language in this thread is just disturbing. If ever the phrase "If you don't like a thread don't post" applied, it applies here. The negative comments here are the equivalent to driving behind a funeral procession and blowing your horn because they are driving to slow. I saw a post in the locker room a few days ago that discussed how to keep soccer trolls out of the world cup threads. If ever there was a place not to piss, it's in threads that deal with the deceased. There was another thread a little while back about Kirby Puckett. Someone brought up his faults and short comings, while others talked about how much he'll be missed. There is nothing more emotionally charged than discussing or dealing with death. Someone may be more affected by a persons death than you are. When it comes to threads like this, it's best to conduct yourself as if you stumbled into their funeral by mistake. I don't think that any of spofi's members are the type to disrespect other members while they mourn, pay tribute, or just remember a fallen friend, hero or whatever else they may consider the deceased person being discussed. Sportsfilter is so big now, you never know, you may be responding to a friend or a relative of the person. If you can not find something positive about the person that is being discussed, just imagine it's one of your family members or a close friend, then think of how you would feel if someone started to speak negatively about them. Look at the comparison of this thread vs. this thread. What's the difference between these 2 young men?
posted by Bishop at 09:24 PM on June 19
Eleven years before Bias' death, another Maryland alum died of a heart attack. His name was Owen Brown, he was only 22 and from my hometown of La Grange, Illinois. He led my high school to a 31-0 record in 1970 and to a state title. Sorry this is not about Len Bias but another tragedy before.
posted by wdminott at 09:42 PM on June 19
Cocaine is absolutely illegal, probably addictive, and definetely harmful to your health. Americans are taught this from a very young age, if not by your parents, then by your grade school teachers. A conscious decision to use it is not tragic, it is stupid, which, my dictionary says, is acting in an unintelligent or careless manner..... If I were to say, drink anti-freeze, knowing full well it could kill me, that would be just as stupid, and I would be just as deserving of my "tragic death".
posted by mjkredliner at 09:42 PM on June 19
Ah, you guys are nuts. It's not a funeral procession. It's a website discussing the death of a guy that happened 20 years ago. Your outrage is completely misplaced. Not to mention totally baffling.
posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:07 PM on June 19
I'm (at best) a casual basketball fan (if there is nothing else on TV, or it's March Madness, or maybe the NBA finals if they go 7 games), but I remember Len Bias. However, I only remember Len Bias as "that college player drafted by the Celtics who died of a heart attack after doing coke". I have no memory of how good he was (other than the default value of being drafted by the NBA), or what team he played for (I would have guessed Georgetown if pressed) or of any perceived increase in "drugs are bad" messages (they always seemed to be around back then). To me, he was just some semi-famous kid who did something very stupid.
posted by grum@work at 10:36 PM on June 19
What's the difference between these 2 young men? Go ahead, tell us. My guess...one died twenty years ago from a drug overdose... one died less than a year ago committing suicide. One chose to do something stupid and the other couldn't seem to help it. Or is it so simple as the ____ of their ____? Not. Suicide is baffling. Overdosing is infuriating. Both are tragic. Fuck which definition of tragic you want to read. Suicide leaves blame on the living, overdose leaves blame on a drug. Either one leaves someone dead and others to grieve.
posted by tselson at 10:48 PM on June 19
Len Bias had the world at his feet, and pissed all over himself. I have nothing but disgust for him, and people like him who have all the talent in the world, who throw it away for a momentary high. And it's that keen understanding of the troubles of your fellow man that makes you such a wonderful contributor. Thanks for everything you've written. It's been an inspiration to me. None of which changes the fact I was not quite eleven and didn't understand for a second what had happened. Red and the Celtics had somehow snaked the world again and cemented the future of the franchise and a day later it was gone. A slightly older, more selfish and cynical me thought of Len when we lost to the Pistons in '88.
posted by yerfatma at 06:16 AM on June 20
I fully and readily admit my interest in Bias was only as a Celtics fan. I was working my summer job at Athletic Attic in the mall (where I'd already managed to score tons of Bias gear, including a "Bias and Bird" poster that I still have), when some friends of mine stopped by and dropped the bomb on me. I was crushed, and still remember the feeling that incredible potential had been lost because he made a stupid decision and, in effect, killed himself. Certainly not the normal mode of thinking for a teenager, which I was at the time. Bias' death, coupled with the death of Reggie Lewis years later, really affected the entire attitude of the Celtics and their fans, who had become comfortable with the idea that things would always go our way. Kind of the anti-Sox, if you will. Plus, the Maryland connection is a little creepy.
posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:23 AM on June 20
You go back to the very first post--it was a sad day in basketball, we lost one of the best players of that era. How do we know he wouldn't be a bust in the NBA, alot of players are good in college and tend to be mediocer? in the pro's, one comes to mind living here in Sacramento--Bobby Hurley good in college but not so good in the pro's. We have to stop putting the college athletes on a pedistal before we see how good they are, you don't bet the farm on a Nag even if it's the best Nag in the field. Sorry for rambling, but no-one shouyld feel sad --he did it to himself. no one forced him to be a low life dealer/abuser..
posted by vetteman at 08:08 AM on June 20
Hurley is a lousy example, given that he almost died himself.
posted by tieguy at 08:19 AM on June 20
It's funny, cjets, how that works. I was in Israel when Rabin was assassinated, and comparisons were (rightly) made then between the nation's state of shock and the shock in the US in the wake of the JFK assassination. That moment, too, is indelibly etched in me, and it's the exact same kind of etching as Bias' death. That's why I made the comparison. And as someone who cared about him when he lived, it should not be surprising that I care about him in death. And yeah, Weedy, disappointment and anger are large parts of that caring. Bias' death had a huge impact on how I see addicts, both close to me and far away, and if anything, it served to solidify contradictory impulses. I'm surprised that you are still totally baffled at my feelings on this, as I've explained where I'm coming from pretty well. I don't mind that you disagree with me; I just wish I could make myself clearer so you could understand why this upset me.
posted by Hugh Janus at 08:41 AM on June 20
So, should we also mourn for Rickey Willims' tragedy?? They're both guys who did drugs and screwed up their careers.... Most people think it's all good fun to laugh at Rickey's situation... Len Bias was a big deal to Celtics Fans and Terps fans, but the rest of the country was not as impacted. Alot of folks in my area laughed about it at the time, since the Celtics always got the breaks, the were "owed one". I don't agree, but that alot of what went around at the time. I guess if Darko Milic had just OD'd the night the Pistons drafted him, he'd be one of the best big men ever to play the game. Oh, and say what you will about Kobe, he's not a coke snorting wastrel... So, judge Bias through the same lens you judge all of these other atheletes, and the hyperbole in this thread is ust laughable.... Comparing Len Bias and JFK... Please.
posted by LostInDaJungle at 10:13 AM on June 20
So, should we also mourn for Rickey Willims' tragedy?? They're both guys who did drugs and screwed up their careers.... Most people think it's all good fun to laugh at Rickey's situation... One's dead, one isn't.
posted by jerseygirl at 10:31 AM on June 20
Comparing Len Bias and JFK... Please. I've explained why I said that. If you didn't understand my explanation, made a few times and in detail, the fault lies with you. I bet yours isn't a case of abject stupidity, but one of careless reading. Please try harder next time.
posted by Hugh Janus at 10:46 AM on June 20
You can explain why you said it all you want. It's still a silly thing to say. I could sit here and say that the death of Larry the Lobster was an event that shocked the country, me especially, and hence it is worthy of comparing to the Lincoln assination, but that doesn't make it any less ludicrous. What I explained in my post was that it didn't "shock the US" when Bias died, it shocked Maryland and Celtic fans. "and comparisons were (rightly) made then between the nation's state of shock and the shock in the US in the wake of the JFK assassination." Betting is illegal, so I'll just guess you're not abjectly stupid. As I stated, outside of the NE, this was not that shocking. What shocked America was the tale of the new drug that Bias had OD'd on that killed him the first time he tried it! Crack. (Although he didn't OD on crack, it was just a convenient story.) It hit just as powerfully as that LSD "I can fly" afterschool special with Helen Hunt. If we're comparing Bias' death to JFK's, (since JFK was a known rifle abuser) we might as well start comparing the Baseball Steroid trials with Saccho-Vanzetti. Oh, wait, they did that with the OJ trial.
posted by LostInDaJungle at 11:02 AM on June 20
Sorry for rambling, but no-one shouyld feel sad --he did it to himself. no one forced him to be a low life dealer/abuser.. posted by vetteman at 8:08 AM CDT on June 20 What class. If we apply your point of view to life in general, then no one should have been sad when Elvis died, I mean he did it to himself right? No one should feel sad for any of their family members that have cancer as a result of smoking cigarettes, they did it to themselves right? Or how about those people that have type 2 or diet related Diabetes, they did it to themselves as well. And don't forget all those people that got killed in car accidents because they weren't wearing their seat belts. Or how about John Belushi, River Phoenix, Kurt Cobain, Richard Pryor? Maybe you should give Juan Dixon (another former Maryland player) a call and tell him that his parents did it to themselves. Those of us directly affected by drugs or over dosing can only hope that you will soon be affected by it yourself. That way, when that feeling of loss grips you like a bullet to your chest, you can reread your own comment here and remember that you shouldn't feel sad.
posted by Bishop at 11:05 AM on June 20
"and comparisons were (rightly) made then between the nation's state of shock and the shock in the US in the wake of the JFK assassination." Well, LostInDaJungle, I gotta say, by cutting the subject out of my sentence, you missed the fact that I was talking about Itzhak Rabin's assassination. What was that I said about careless reading? As this thread went on, I clarified my reasons for saying what I did; how on a personal level, I remember everything about hearing this news, in the same way my folks remember everything about hearing of JFK's death (and, according to them, they remember everything about Len Bias' death in that same crystal-clear memory of shock). It's all up there, but I clearly can't expect you to read it.
posted by Hugh Janus at 11:11 AM on June 20
Lostindajungle, what's your point? Are you attempting to add something to this discussion? Or are you attempting to debate how others should feel or perceive something they think is tragic? As I stated, outside of the NE, this was not that shocking. What shocked America was the tale of the new drug that Bias had OD'd on that killed him the first time he tried it! Crack You are correct, the state of Maryland wasn't affected by this at all, nor was Bias' home town. And are you really speaking for the entire United States of America?
posted by Bishop at 11:19 AM on June 20
Alot of folks in my area laughed about it at the time, since the Celtics always got the breaks, the were "owed one". A lot of people are assholes. I don't typically use their opinions as supporting material.
posted by yerfatma at 11:19 AM on June 20
Michael Wilbon: ESPN analyst Jay Bilas . . . said: "For people of my parents' generation, they mark time by when President Kennedy was assassinated. For me, and I think for many people who are about this age, I mark time by the death of Len Bias." Chad Finn: Twenty years ago today, and damned if don't I remember it like it happened 20 minutes ago.
posted by yerfatma at 11:39 AM on June 20
Ahem, you were comparing the Rabin assaination to Bias as well actually, so you've reached new plateaus of hyperbole now. Again, even in this last comment, you are trying to equate Rabin = JFK = Bias. Via that corolarry, you're trying to convince us that the Bias death was an event of national importance and that we lost more than the next potential Daryl Strawberry. Whatever Hugh, you obviously have an axe to grind, rather impolitely at that. Bishop, good points all. As I said earlier, my heartfelt condolences for Len Bias the person, regardless of how I feel about Len Bias the cultural icon. JerseyGirl, so if our drug problems get so out of hand that we die, now we deserve pity? I would think pity and compassion would be best spent on the living. We can still help a Rickey Williams, that is if we truly care about addicts as more than symbols... I question why a guy like Bias gets these love affair articles written about him and Daryl Strawberry is still the butt of every late night joke. I honestly wish that Bias' name didn't trigger my ire at the indignities that we have suffered in his name. Some terms that Bias' indirectly added to the english language: Zero Tolerance (Unless it's already killed you apparently) No Knock Raid Mandatory Minimum Sentences It's a shame the way Bias was used by the anti-drug warriors, it's a shame those around him played into that game. Most commentators still to this day gloss over the fact that he was a heavy user and dealer. (In fact the linked article does exactly that.)
posted by LostInDaJungle at 11:39 AM on June 20
Slow day at work, eh?
posted by jerseygirl at 11:56 AM on June 20
I think that, there is a difference in what we are comparing here. If you are close or closely relate to someone who has died, then of course you are going to feel loss, in the manner that Bishop described (very well, I might add), no matter what the cause of it was. But for an outsider to feel sorry for someone who has contributed to their own demise is asking a bit much, even if they are a celebrity, athlete, politician, whatever. Is it sad? Of course. But don't expect me to treat them any differently than you would a homeless bum who dies on the street of an OD. It IS sad, but it was also a choice, or string of them, that led to the demise of the many mentioned (and many more unmentioned) celebrities, Bishop. And risky choices and lifestyles often have sad outcomes. Tragic is when your demise is not caused through fault of your own, like, well, the assasinations of JFK and Itzhak Rabin. But then again, I am not the most sensitive person who frequents Spo-FI. LostInDaJungle: Hugh has made his position pretty clear, I think you are missing the point. Or, maybe it's me. Again. Oh well.
posted by mjkredliner at 11:58 AM on June 20
Forget it, Lost. You still haven't bothered to read what I wrote. You're still putting words like "event of national importance " in my mouth. I assume you're smart enough to get that I'm writing about my own personal perspective, and the perspective of my Maryland-fan friends and family, but I can see for some reason you insist on responding to claims I never made about the national impact of Bias' death. I'm not saying that Bias' death had the same impact on the US as JFK's, and I've made that clearer and clearer with every post here. I consider the first step towards politeness in an online forum to be reading what others have posted; when their meaning is clear, the second step is to respond to what they wrote. You have consistently and repeatedly misread my words, and after pressing me for clarification, you respond to your original misreading. That is the height of rudeness; you are essentially carrying on a conversation with yourself, only you are imputing (rightly indefensible) statements of your own invention, to me. I wonder what ax you have to grind, that you'd spend so much time arguing with yourself over this.
posted by Hugh Janus at 12:06 PM on June 20
NE - Norst East. Sorry I should have been more specific. Although if I'm to be lambasted for making sweeping generalizations, that sword cuts both ways. Does the other poster really mean to speak for every last American? "A lot of people are assholes. I don't typically use their opinions as supporting material." Cute. I'm just reporting what many folks were saying at the time, and even included that I did not agree. However, I can see your point that since they don't see the issue the same way you do that their opinions can be summarily dismissed. We can still insist that this was a tragedy felt by every American and the only appropriate response is mute head nodding. To quote Finn and Bilas... Gee, you mean guys who cover basketball remember this really well? Shocking. I could tell you some of the events in my career that were signifigant to me and my co-workers that might not mean jack squat to you. I certainly remeber the time we lost power for two days during the Hurricane... A powerful moment for us all. Consider what also happened about the time Bias died... The Berlin Wall fell. I mark time far more by that than the death of an athelete. But then, I'm not a sportswriter. Jersey, yes, finally.
posted by LostInDaJungle at 12:10 PM on June 20
"You have consistently and repeatedly misread my words, and after pressing me for clarification, you respond to your original misreading." Seems like there's alot of that going around. I'm sorry, but your posts are littered with curse words and insults. I would think if you wanted to be taken seriously you could keep the F-bomb under wraps. "I wonder what ax you have to grind, that you'd spend so much time arguing with yourself over this." I wonder who has more posts in this thread?
posted by LostInDaJungle at 12:15 PM on June 20
I wonder who has more posts in this thread? To be fair, he's spent a lot of time trying to refute what you've seemed to misunderstand.
posted by jerseygirl at 12:18 PM on June 20
Jersey, he responded before I did, and then spent last night arguing with Weedy. He had 6 or 7 posts in this thread before even responding to what I have written this morning.
posted by LostInDaJungle at 12:23 PM on June 20
Because it matters to him, which is what he's been trying to tell you. If you get that, just stop responding.
posted by yerfatma at 12:30 PM on June 20
Ok, I'm done here. You guys need to meet after school by the big oak tree and just pound the shit out of each other until someone is crying, otherwise, this is going to continue forever. Lost -- Dude, you'll argue about anything. If I said it was Tuesday, you'd fight me with a 2 paragraph comment on how it was actually Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur.
posted by jerseygirl at 12:31 PM on June 20
Interesting thread on all sides, I think. Clearly all of us, hopefully, merit a bit of pause in somone else's day to remember us after we're gone, regardless of the circumstances of our demise. However, few of us will ever been remembers by so many as well known as a college basketball star. That said, does Rickey Williams have a problem? Seems to me he gave up a life of violence and chronic pain for a simpler life of leisure. That sounds more like sanity than it does the result of a horrible addiction. The only thing I can add here is that this particular event marked the first time in my life I realized that had completely gotten over the sports obsession of my youth. I was a freshman in college (well just finished with finals at that point), when this news story was splashed all over the front page of every newspaper. And all I could think of was that I had absolutely no idea who Len Bias was.
posted by psmealey at 12:33 PM on June 20
Yerfatma, it honours me that I have inspired someone so wise and profound and unjudgemental as yourself. I shall cherish those words of yours as though they came from heaven above. I shall attempt to continue to have a keen understanding of the foibles and troubles of my fellow man. You inspire me to continue to write and contribute. One again, thank you, thank you so very much.
posted by tommytrump at 12:38 PM on June 20
Why, Lost! If only you had told me that my choice of language was your issue with my posts, I would have been happy never to have sworn again (and, for the record, I don't think I swore after my first two posts, before the whole JFK fracas). Instead, you put words in my mouth and attacked them, which just isn't cricket. That's okay. I see where you're coming from. I bothered to read every word you wrote, and to think about their meaning, and to respond accordingly. If my assertion that you aren't reading my words very carefully is what you find so insulting, just think of the other possibility: that you did read my words carefully, but that you didn't understand them. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt in an effort to spare your feelings. And you're right, this has gone on too long. What was this thread about? Oh yeah, Len Bias. He was a hero to me when I was a kid, and when I was a kid he died by his own stupidity. It was shocking, it hurt, and it probably changed my life. And obviously, it still hurts to have his memory insulted. That's all.
posted by Hugh Janus at 12:44 PM on June 20
Jersey, I were unaware that we were such close acquaintences, or even that I was that frequent a poster here. So, if I respond to your incorrect assertion, I'll argue about anything?? Please. Yerfatima, I thought this was a discussion area, I'm trying to have a discussion. That's all. So, if anyone is offended it's time to stop talking? Janus, I'm not trying to misunderstand you, just as I am sure you are not trying to misunderstand me, yet that seems to be what we are both doing. There is more than one side to the Len Bias story and some of us would like to discuss that other side, or at least bring it to light. Last I checked, that's what I thought SpoFi was about. If I was only looking to hug nuts with homers, I'd hang at a team site. However, if your main debating tactic is to refer to other posters as stupid and belittle them, you cannot expect much of a polite response. I'll apologize for offending you, but I'll also defend the right of posters to discuss something other than the polite version of the story. Also, you're not understanding what I'm trying to say either, and I'm also giving you the benefit of the doubt as well. In fact, you don't even seem to understand that you're misunderstanding me... It's all so confusing! See y'all in the next thread.
posted by LostInDaJungle at 01:30 PM on June 20
It's funny, cjets, how that works. I was in Israel when Rabin was assassinated, and comparisons were (rightly) made then between the nation's state of shock and the shock in the US in the wake of the JFK assassination. That moment, too, is indelibly etched in me, and it's the exact same kind of etching as Bias' death. That's why I made the comparison. It's not that I don't understand, Hugh. It's that I don't agree. Why? Kennedy and Rabin were world leaders who were assasinated. Bias was a mega talented college athlete who chose to participate in very risky illegal activities and paid the price for it. And again, my understanding was that he did enough blow to kill 5 men, much less one. So this wasn't a guy that did a line and dropped dead. This was a guy that pushed the limits and paid for it. His responsibility for his own death makes this much different than someone who was assassinated, much less a world leader. I'm not trying to tell you YOU should feel any differently. But you should try and understand how most other people view his death. For those that are still listening.
posted by cjets at 02:50 PM on June 20
Yerfatima, I thought this was a discussion area, I'm trying to have a discussion. That's all. So, if anyone is offended it's time to stop talking? How did you get that from "If you get that, just stop responding." All I was saying was "If you now understand his side, I don't think further clarification is going to go anywhere. It's that I don't agree. Why? Kennedy and Rabin were world leaders who were assasinated. Bias was a mega talented college athlete who chose to participate in very risky illegal activities and paid the price for it. I think the Kennedy thing is a fairly common shorthand for "This affected me deeply". Plenty of people get away with it re: John Lennon.
posted by yerfatma at 03:08 PM on June 20
The thing is, and I hate to still be here, really, I made a statement about how personally the shock of Bias' death was as significant to me as, for myself, later, was Rabin's, and as was, earlier and for my parents, JFK's. Then folks started telling me I was exaggerating and it was an insult to compare JFK to Bias. Believe me, I know the difference between a world leader and a cracked out college athlete. But since I brought it up, as a personal story, and used JFK as an example of the shock of the memory (a comparison I would never have made had my parents, who were in Dallas in '63, not made it themselves), I don't really see what I'm not understanding. You, and others, are caught up in comparing JFK and Bias as men. There is no comparison. I brought it up in the context of comparing one shocking, life-changing death with another shocking, life changing death, and how they affected me. That's all, and I've taken great pains to explain this, and if I sound argumentative, it's because I've been saying the same thing over and over; to me (and to my parents and most of my friends), as a Marylander and a twelve year-old, the shock of Len Bias' death was as indelible on my memory as was the shock of JFK's death to those who were alive to hear of it. If you have gripes about my priorities in placing a sports star in such high regard that his death would be such a shocking blow, take it up with my twelve year-old self, or ask any twelve year-old who's more important to them, their favorite sports star or, say, Abraham Lincoln. Seriously, I'm not talking about historical importance here, I'm talking about me. And I'm a little sick of trying to understand something that I not only already know (that there is no comparison between JFK and Len Bias) but that people are using wrongly to tear apart childhood memories that are, twenty years on, still conflicted and still very sad.
posted by Hugh Janus at 03:19 PM on June 20
Bishop - that's my feeling on the whole Len Bias situation--he chose to take drugs, just like John Belushi,River pheonix,etc. If you choose to screw your life up, you don't deserve sympathy or pity. If that had been my brother,I would not have felt pity or sadness, but anger over him being so stupid and screwing up not only his life but my parents lfe as well. So yes I'm callus when it comes to people and stupidity, if you scsrew your self you get what you deserve.
posted by vetteman at 09:36 PM on June 20
I remember where I was when I heard the news the way my folks remember Kennedy. So do all my friends. Same here, Hugh. I was a kid touring europe with my class. I was so excited about the celtics getting Bias. I saw his picture in a german newspaper, and though I can't read german, I could make out that something bad had happened. I got confirmation from a phone call a little later. The challenger exploding and bias dying are two events where I remember exactly where I was when I received the news, and exactly how I felt. And to those who jumped on the 'I can't believe you're comparing Bias to kennedy' you really need to read slower or take a reading comprehension class. All I know is that it was the first time I encountered sudden, surprising death, and that it hurt then, and it still hurts, and it's hard to be conciliatory in the face of harsh criticism like on this thread. Again, couldn't say it any better. It was almost a loss of innocence for me. I have nothing but disgust for him, and people like him who have all the talent in the world, who throw it away for a momentary high. If you choose to screw your life up, you don't deserve sympathy or pity. If that had been my brother,I would not have felt pity or sadness You know, I love the internet, and I love sportsfilter, but sometimes I read things that make me glad my interaction with certain people are kept digital, as I'd really hate to meet such hateful, judgmental individuals in person. Such perfection must be a terrible weight to bear.
posted by justgary at 01:10 AM on June 21
Good God, can we stop the slapfight now? The man died. He died largely because of his own actions. Some of us were affected by it then and, to a lesser extent, still are today. Some of us just don't give a damn. Now, it's a beautiful day, so get outside and play nice.
posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:28 AM on June 21
Also, you're not understanding what I'm trying to say either, and I'm also giving you the benefit of the doubt as well. In fact, you don't even seem to understand that you're misunderstanding me... It's all so confusing So yes I'm callus when it comes to people and stupidity, if you scsrew your self you get what you deserve The Book of James chapter 3:1-8 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed,[a] we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison
posted by Bishop at 05:41 AM on June 21
Some of us were affected by it then and, to a lesser extent, still are today. Some of us just don't give a damn. I'm completely ok with that. I'm ok with disecting both the good and bad of the dead on sportsfilter. Hell, I'm ok with the comments I linked too. I'm just happy not to know such people.
posted by justgary at 12:34 PM on June 21
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