NEVER TOO YOUNG TO DIE: The Death of Len Bias by Lewis Cole

NEVER TOO YOUNG TO DIE: The Death of Len Bias

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Cole (screenwriter/Columbia Univ.), author of two other books on basketball (A Loose Game, Dream Team), tackles one of the more obvious sport tragedies of our time--the death of Maryland superstar Lenny Bias by cocaine overdose, only one day after being picked in the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics and signed to a million-dollar contract. Cole narrates his tale on three levels: as investigative reporting (well-told but unenlightening: on Brian Bribble's being acquitted of introducing the 88% pure cocaine that killed Bias, the best that Cole can rake up is that ""The secret of Leonard's last hours that final night. . .remain Tribble's privileged possession. It is doubtful he will ever share that information with the world""); as sports biography (Bias is portrayed as the most fragmented of people: ""Son, lover, player, and the other variations on these themes, Christian, stud, meal ticket--in whose presence did Leonard ever present these separate pieces as one whole, seamless self?""); and as social criticism (""Leonard's death was the worst crime a society can commit against itself: the destruction of one of its own children. But this tragedy was followed only by another: the refusal to confront what had happened""). Coles, unfortunately, often stretches for points (coach Lefty Driesell ""was a coach for the Reagan era, an embodiment of the simple virtues of rugged individualism""), but he does a service by clarifying again that Bias' tragedy mirrors a deep societal malaise.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Pantheon