Sports

Feinstein: Why Didn’t Maryland Induct Len Bias into Hall of Fame 25 Years Ago?

by Chris Lingebach
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Len Bias of the Boston Celtics pumps his fist after he was selected second overall in the June 1986 NBA draft. (Photo By: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

Len Bias of the Boston Celtics pumps his fist after he was selected second overall in the June 1986 NBA draft. (Photo By: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – In the wake of the announcement University of Maryland would be inducting Len Bias into its Athletics Hall of Fame, posthumously, columnist John Feinstein wondered aloud, ‘Why now?’

Feinstein wrote a column indicting Maryland’s decision to induct Bias, 25 years after his untimely death — he died of a cocaine overdose in a dormitory on the College Park campus, less than 48 hours after being drafted second overall by the Boston Celtics on June 17, 1986 — which Feinstein believes to have been in conflict with the Maryland Hall of Fame character clause.

In it, he wrote:

There’s a character clause on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, which is why no one should ever vote for Rose or any of those who took steroids and lied about taking them.

There also is a character clause attached to the Maryland Hall of Fame. Apparently the committee decided 28 years was enough time either to look the other way or believe that dying of a cocaine overdose doesn’t represent a major character flaw.

Feinstein took that thought one step further Thursday, in an interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, saying because of the nature of Bias’ death, the athlete doesn’t deserve to be honored, and certainly not 28 years after the fact.

“He is either the greatest basketball player in Maryland history, or there are some, like Gary Williams, who would go with Juan Dixon, but he’s either 1 or 1A,” Feinstein explained. “But there is a character clause, and if you look at the entire picture of Len Bias, as Gary Williams pointed out in the column this morning, he brought many great moments to Maryland. I witnessed many of them.  And I liked Len Bias, by the way. I really did. I like him a lot. I covered him. But he also brought shame to the University of Maryland, because he did something incredibly stupid, and he paid the ultimate price for that act.”

“And, as Gary pointed out, it put a cloud over Maryland for many, many years as a result,” he continued. “So do you feel incredible pity for him? Yes, because he paid the ultimate price. Do you ‘forgive’ him for making a terrible mistake? Doesn’t really matter, but yes.

“But do you honor him? Do you honor him? Because a Hall of Fame should be about people who brought honor to their sport, their school, their profession, whatever it is; I don’t believe Len Bias merits that. And I would throw in one other question, Grant. If Maryland believes he’s a Hall of Famer now, why didn’t they believe he was a Hall of Famer 25 years ago? Why now?”

Bias will be inducted into Maryland’s Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 3.

What’s your opinion?

John Feinstein on Len Bias Induction

106.7 The Fan
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