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‘He floated into the room’: The legendary Len Bias remembered by Maryland Terrapins teammate

‘He floated into the room’: The legendary Len Bias remembered by Maryland Terrapins teammate

Before he was a basketball analyst for NBC Sports Washington. Before he played for twelve different NBA teams. Before he was an NBA champion in 2005 with the San Antonio Spurs.

Before his 13-year professional career, Tony Massenburg was an incoming freshman at the University of Maryland in the summer of 1985 and excited to have an opportunity to play with his childhood idol, Len Bias.

“The greatest Maryland Terrapin basketball player of all time,” Massenburg said during a recent episode of the Wizards Talk Podcast.

It is 35 years past now and Massenburg still remembers with perfect clarity the first time he met the man his teammates and friends to this day call Lenny.

“I literally saw like a light, you know like when Charlie Murphy talks about seeing Rick James in the Dave Chappelle skit?” Massenburg said. “The aura. That’s what it was like the first time I saw Len Bias. He floated into the room.”

That summer of ‘85 Bias was coming off a junior year in College Park where he led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring (18.9 points per game) and was named the ACC's Player of the Year.

Bias was the clear face of Maryland basketball and nearly a year away from becoming the second overall pick by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA Draft.

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Back to Massenburg: after meeting Lenny, it was time to play a game with his idol.

That summer, Massenburg describes getting picked up by Bias on campus in a big gray Oldsmobile - large enough to fit six guys all 6-foot-7 or taller. They were headed to American University to play against some of the best players in the DMV. Their arrival did not go unnoticed. 

“As soon as we walk into the gym, we hear somebody shout out, I GOT BIAS!” Massenburg said. “Everybody recognized, OK you know who’s in the gym now. It’s no question in the area at this time that everybody knows that Len Bias is the best player in the DMV - and most of us believed the best player in the country”.

So what did Bias do for an encore his senior year at Maryland? He became a consensus All-American and earned back-to-back ACC Player of the Year honors averaging 23.2 points per game.

RELATED: HOW LEN BIAS' INFLUENCE CAN STILL BE SEEN IN P.G. COUNTY AND NBA TODAY

In 2018, Massenburg and fellow Maryland alum Walt Williams co-authored a book entitled “Lessons from Lenny: The Journey Beyond a Shooting Star.” In the book, Massenburg describes what Bias meant to him in life and even in death after Lenny’s untimely passing on June 19, 1986 from cocaine intoxication just two days after being drafted by the Boston Celtics.

Many of those Lessons from Lenny, Massenburg applied before, during and after his NBA career.

“I can tie the improvements in my life, the ultimate lesson we learned from Len Bias’ legacy that one bad decision can cost you everything,” Massenburg said. “And that saved countless lives just on its on.“

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Former Terp and current Bills WR Stefon Diggs ready for new start after exit from Vikings

Former Terp and current Bills WR Stefon Diggs ready for new start after exit from Vikings

Stefon Diggs has a new beginning with the Buffalo Bills.

And he isn't dwelling on his departure from the Minnesota Vikings.

Speaking with Buffalo reporters for the first time since his blockbuster trade in March, Diggs repeatedly expressed excitement over his new surroundings while also downplaying his role in leaving Minnesota.

"As far as my past with Minnesota, I never actually said anything," Diggs said. "But, granted, this new situation, I can say I'm excited. There's no right or wrong or problems to be fixed or something to replace with my old situation. I have a lot of respect for the Minnesota Vikings."

Last season with the Vikings, Diggs was fined more than $200,000 for unexcused absences from practices in October. He was also known for cryptic tweets that may or may not have offered insight into his situation with the team. Prior to being traded to Buffalo, Diggs tweeted "it's time for a new beginning" -- and hours later he was a member of the Bills for four draft picks.

In Buffalo, he's expected to be the unquestioned No. 1 receiver on a team hoping to win the AFC East following Tom Brady's exit from the division.

"I never really was too vocal about it. `It's time for a new beginning' was enough said," Diggs said. "I'm super excited with my new situation. I feel like this is also a great organization built on a lot of hard-working guys, a lot of guys that really grind to get to where they're at.

"I trust the people that are in place. I'm just happy to be a part of it at this point. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything like that, I'm just trying to be as helpful as I can, be a puzzle piece, try to mesh as well as I can to help this team win."

Diggs has been a game-breaker throughout his career and the Bills are hoping he's the finishing piece who can put them over the top. Diggs finished last season with a career-high 1,130 yards receiving and he was fourth in the league with an average of 17.9 yards per reception. He's considered one of the best route runners in the NFL and is set to form a solid receiving trio alongside John Brown and Cole Beasley.

Priority No. 1 for Diggs with his new team is to work on establishing chemistry with quarterback Josh Allen. The two met up for unofficial workouts in Florida earlier this summer, but have plenty of work to make up with the lack of a traditional offseason.

"I'm super excited," Diggs said. "He's going into Year 3. As a quarterback, as a guy, big arm, big quarterback, a lot of heart, he runs around, he's mobile, can extend the play. He does a lot of things extremely well. More so focused on how I can help him, anything I can do to help him. Always be in his ear, having communication with him, if he needs something from me ... I'm just there to be his supporting cast on whatever he needs and play receiver."

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So far, so good according to teammate and standout cornerback Tre'Davious White.

"Obviously he's a Grade A talent," White said. "To have a transcendent talent like that to add with the other guys that we have ... on paper, it looks great. Those guys are going to have to continue to work each and every day. Just on paper, we look sexy (on offense), we look good."

After expressing some concerns one month ago about playing football this year -- and hours after White said that he was unsure about his own plans for this season -- Diggs said that he will be playing amid coronavirus concerns.

"Seeing that the deadline is tomorrow, I'm pretty much bought in on playing football," Diggs said. "I've been here buying into the process as far as getting to know my teammates, getting to know my coaches, kind of starting to get the ball rolling. I put in a lot of time in the offseason training and (working on) my craft ... I made some arrangements where I'm going to be playing football this year."

NOTES: The Bills activated CB Ike Brown and S Siran Neal off the reserve/COVID-19 list. To make room on the roster, Buffalo released RB Antonio Williams and DE Jonathan Woodard.

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Maryland announces no positive COVID-19 results in recent test

Maryland announces no positive COVID-19 results in recent test

Maryland’s University Health Center initiated an on-campus screening for 227 student-athletes and staff on July 27th resulting in no positive tests for COVID-19. 

Maryland Athletics continues a phased approach to return student-athletes to campus, by working with the University Health Center to conduct regular COVID-19 testing. Overall to date, Maryland has tested 964 student-athletes, coaches and staff totaling only 12 positive tests.

Maryland is stable for now - but things are not looking as good for Big 10 rivals Rutgers and Michigan State as a COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread. The Michigan State football program announced on July 22nd football workouts were suspended after a staff member tested positive. Just three days later, the entire football team entered a 14-day quarantine after a second staff member and a player tested positive.

The Rutgers football team remains in isolation through Aug. 8th after positive tests skyrocket to 28 confirmed positive cases. That number nearly doubled from the 15 confirmed cases announced last week.

The Big Ten announced back in early July that it will play only conference games this year in football. Although the conference has yet to confirm when preseason training camps can begin. Given the current circumstances you can understand why.

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