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Early death of two-consecutive first-round Celtics draftees hurt immeasurably


The pain of losing both Len Bias and Reggie Lewis will forever go down in Celtics history as a near-disaster that helped put The Green in a 22-year Championship drought.

Shortly after being taken second-overall in the 1986 NBA draft, Bias died of an apparent cocaine overdose. Boston had acquired the draft pick by means of trading Gerald Henderson to Seattle, and I not-so-fondly recall a cruel written comment indicating "the Celtics traded Henderson for a corpse."  

Red Auerbach knew NBA talent, and Len had it big time. The 6'8" forward would have been a superstar in the League.

The next year, Boston took 6'7" Reggie Lewis with the 22nd pick in the first round of the 1987 draft. If rival GMs could have a redoing of that draft, Reggie would have been snagged much sooner. He turned out to be that good. 

But death intervened once again for Red and his team. Lewis collapsed on the court during a game on April 27, 1993 and was later diagnosed with a heart issue. Exactly three months later, on July 27, 1993, the lovable Celtics wing died during off-season practice. 

Reggie made only one All-Star appearance (1992), but there would have been more had he lived. Imagine if Bias had taken to the parquet for the 1986-87 season and be joined by Reggie the following year. Adding one or two more Titles in the ensuing years would have had a decent probability. But we will never know.

 

 

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