June 4, 2020

Celtics’ Auerbach had high expectations for Len Bias

Kris Rhim

I first learned about Len Bias from watching ESPN’s “30 for 30 Without Bias” and Showtime’s “Basketball County in The Water.” I learned even more about him while watching “SportsCenter Special: Remembering Len Bias.”

I was left with a feeling of, what if?

When the 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward matched up against Michael Jordan and No.1 North Carolina, Bias dominated, scoring 35 points and giving the Tar Heels their first loss at the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center. This game makes me wonder what kind of duels Jordan and Bias could have had in the NBA — especially considering that Bias would go on to be drafted by the Boston Celtics, the reigning NBA champions. Boston looked like the perfect situation for Bias as he would have the opportunity to learn from Larry Bird, who’d just won two MVPs, as well as four other future Hall of Famers. Players were so excited for Bias’ arrival that coach Red Auerbach even told reporters after the draft, “Larry Bird was so excited, he said he’d be coming up to rookie camp.” It’s fair to say that if Len Bias had not died before his professional career even began, we could be living in a world where Micahel Jordan isn’t considered the greatest player of all time and doesn’t have six rings. The two could’ve had a rivalry similar to the Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson duels that propelled the NBA’s success. But instead, we are left with the question, what if?

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