A clear-eyed retrospective free of both nostalgia and undue criticism. He sees the players for the highly skilled athletes they were, ambassadors for a nation that seemed much more powerful (both on the court and off) then than it does today. The quotes sure to generate the most buzz are those from Clyde Drexler. In the span of a four-page “interlude” entitled “The Glide,” Drexler manages to offer brutally—and possibly deluded—honest opinions of both Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. With respect to Johnson, who at that time was known to have contracted HIV, Drexler said, “Everybody kept waiting for Magic to die. Every time he’d run up the court everybody would feel sorry for the guy, and he’d get all that benefit of the doubt.” He goes on to say, of the 1992 All-Star Team, “If we all knew Magic was going to live this long, I would’ve gotten the MVP of that game, and Magic probably wouldn’t have made the Olympic team.”
On June 19, 1986, 25 years ago Sunday, University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias died of cocaine intoxication. Many believed the 6-foot 7, 220-pound small forward possessed a level of talent equal to that of Michael Jordan, and only two days earlier he’d been selected as the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft by the reigning champion Boston Celtics…In Ronald Reagan’s America, Bias instantly became the poster child for what could happen to anyone who didn’t just say no. His sudden, shocking death dominated the headlines and unnerved millions of Americans, who were told that the cardiac arrhythmia he suffered was the result of casual, one-time experimentation with drugs. “Leonard’s only vice,” his college coach, Charles “Lefty” Driesell, had declared just days earlier, “is ice cream.” Responding to this outpouring of grief and fear, Congress promptly passed (and Reagan signed) the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. In their haste, they may not have fully grasped what they were doing.
“Time really flies by fast…I can remember when I was the youngest, looking at Barkley and Malone and Jordan. Now, I’m the oldest in the league. So I just try to set a really good example for the guys. So when I’m done playing, the game will still be in good hands.’’