As they battled it out in the ACC for Maryland and North Carolina, it was only natural to wonder in the 1980s if Len Bias and Michael Jordan would continue their rivalry at the NBA level. Unfortunately, Bias never made it that far as he passed away just days after being taken as the No. 2 pick in the 1986 draft. Jordan, of course, went on to be the best player in NBA history.
Former Maryland stars and NBA players Tony Massenburg and Walt Williams still wonder what could have been. And knowing Bias as well as they did, they think he would have been a worthy adversary for Jordan in the pros.
They both joined the 'Wizards Talk' podcast to reflect on Bias, now 34 (his jersey number) years to the week of his untimely death.
"There's no question in my mind he would have been one of the all-time greats," Massenburg said. "Every year it would have been the Celtics and the Chicago Bulls. The debate would have been who is the greatest, who is going to inherit this mantle: Michael Jordan or Len Bias?... There is no doubt in my mind that the Boston Celtics would have won championships. There's no doubt that the Chicago Bulls would not have won six."
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Massenburg said Bias would have realized his potential in Boston in part because he would have studied under Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, two Hall of Famers who played a similar position. And, Massenburg added, he would have been like Dominique Wilkins but with a better outside shot.
The truth is, both Williams and Massenburg, haven't seen a true contemporary of Bias since he passed away. And they wonder if that would be different if he lived.
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"You never got a chance to see a replica of him in the younger generation," Williams said. "To me, that's the saddest thing about Lenny and his death. When you saw a guy like Michael Jordan, when he played in the NBA for years and years, you started to see the next generation copy his game. You can see it incorporated in a lot of guys who play the game now. I think that was because of how he progressed at the NBA level. You never got an opportunity to see Len Bias do that."
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