It was 1986. The Boston Celtics, led by Larry Bird, had just won the NBA title. The Celtics were beginning to age as a team and were fortunate to have the #2 pick in the NBA draft. With their selection they chose Len Bias – All-American from University of Maryland. Bias was 6’7” and chiseled – unbreakable. He dominated the paint of the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference and was the ACC Player of the Year. His motor was always running and opponents bounced off him like a bull through a china shop.
Two days after the draft he was dead at the age of 22. It was shocking. How had this young man with a future so bright, made such a bad decision? As you watched the tributes to Mr. Bias you realized how loved he was beyond the basketball court.
The bad decision he made was cocaine – the ‘vogue’ drug of the 80s. He paid for it with his life. His death and the disbelief, shock and anger that followed, helped to educate and scare folks about how dangerous and prevalent ‘coke’ was.
Almost 30 years later and we are facing one of the most serious drug problems in our nation’s history. Heroin – the easy to get drug of today.
Our area is being particularly saturated with the drug. It affects more people than you could ever guess. Please don’t put the blinders on and think it’s not going to affect you or your family. I pray that it doesn’t. Being educated and understanding what is out there is the best way to deal with this present danger.
I have asked my right-hand person, Editor Steph Nordstrom, to investigate and report all relevant information about heroin and its effect on our area. We will be doing a series of articles working with local law enforcement professionals. It is important to understand the severity of the situation.
Our local police and DA are doing a great job on the street dealing with this problem. I’m astonished by the amount of heroin and guns the Williamsport Blue has seized.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. It will take a total commitment from each local community to fight the war against heroin. If you know someone with a problem, please try to get them to seek help. I know this is very difficult. If you have information to help local law enforcement please make the call – you will remain anonymous.
Someone may have been able to help Len Bias – but they didn’t want to get involved or be honest with him. What a terrible waste.
Do you have your bracket complete? College basketball – March Madness – it doesn’t get much better than that. I never have much luck picking the winners. It has been my experience you can only follow the facts so far. Never mind the 30-win season or the recent tradition of the program. The true bracketeer may have less knowledge of statistics and more knowledge of the school’s nickname, mascot or school colors. The great thing is anyone can complete a bracket and have a shot of the winning the office pool. For the more advanced – maybe enter the ESPN Annual National Bracket Bonanza. What a great event the NCAA tournament is. Even those who don’t watch the games check the scores to see if their bracket has been ‘blown up.’
Why does America have this love affair with college hoops and this March ritual? First and foremost it’s a true national championship. Win and you’re in. It doesn’t matter if you’re Bucknell from the Patriot League or North Carolina from the ACC. It’s a true ‘David vs. Goliath’ on a national stage – and there are a lot of Davids. Just take a look at your bracket.
Next, you only need 5 players in basketball. This allows the small schools to go toe-to-toe and compete with the big guys. In football you need 25 – 11 on offense, 11 on defense and a kicking game. Hoops – just 5. Get a great point guard and a solid big man, surround them with three athletes and you have George Mason in the final four.
America loves an underdog. Throw a college name across their jersey add in the pageantry of March Madness – anything can happen. As Cinderella wins and advances she grows more beautiful. So get together and enjoy some food, fun and friendship. I’m sure some March Madness will soon follow. Oh and good luck on your picks.
Lastly I think all those brackets give every fan or non-fan a feeling of involvement. What other sport does this happen in?
Two fun numbers I would like to know: the total number of brackets printed off at copiers around the nation and how many call off sick the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament?
Remember Coach Jim Valvano’s NC State Wolfpack? They had to win the ACC Tourney just to get in the ‘Big Dance.’ I believe they began tournament play with a 16-12 record. By the time they played Houston in the championship game, Jimmy V’s Cinderella squad had the nation behind them. Guy Lewis’s heavily favored Cougars were playing against much more than the Wolfpack that night. The clock never struck midnight as Lorenzo Charles dunked an air ball to win the game. Yes, an air ball, Dereck Whittenburg’s shot never had a prayer, but it made for one heck of a pass.