To Lefty Driesell, Len Bias was more than just a player

June 26, 2011 | Peter Dilutis

Looking back, it is common for fans to make the comparison between Len Bias and Michael Jordan. They were born the same year, played against each other in college, and are widely considered to be two of the greatest college basketball players of all time.

“They were different players,” Driesell said. “I think Leonard was a better rebounder and a better inside player and I think he could shoot outside just as well as Jordan. But Jordan was a little better ball handler because Leonard played power forward and small forward mostly for me. Jordan was a guard, so they played 2 different positions. Mike Krzyzewski always said that Michael Jordan and Leonard Bias were the two greatest players he’d ever coached against in his career, so he must be pretty good.”

Things also could have turned out much differently for Lefty had Len Bias not overdosed on that June morning in 1986. Lefty went on to resign just a few months following the tragedy. The Maryland program then went into the tank during the Bob Wade years before Gary Williams came along to pick up the pieces. How long does Lefty feel he might have stayed at Maryland had Len Bias stayed away from cocaine just days after being selected in the NBA draft?

“I’d probably still be coaching there,” Driesell admitted.

Even 25 years after his death, Len Bias continues to be one of the most polarizing figures in the history of Maryland athletics. While fans will always remember how much he contributed to the program, it is near impossible to think of him without also thinking about what could have been had Len just gone to sleep on that June night. However, it is important for people to remember all of the positives that surrounded Len Bias, rather than dwell on the negative circumstances that led to his untimely death at the age of 22.

“All I can say is that Leonard Bias was a great man and I loved him like my son, and I miss him everyday,” Driesell said. “I’m a Presbyterian. I believe in predestination. The Lord has a time for everybody to go and he wanted Leonard to go and I think a lot of people have gotten off of drugs because of that.”