On this day in Boston Celtics history, small forward Len Bias was born in Landover, Maryland in 1963. Bias would attend his hometown University of Maryland after graduating high school, where he would rise to national attention with the Terrapins.
He would be taken by the Celtics with the second overall pick of the 1986 NBA draft, only to have tragedy follow soon after. To celebrate his good fortune of landing with the storied franchise, the former Terrapin returned to the University of Maryland campus to celebrate his ascent to a contending team in the NBA with several of his friends.
Bias would have a seizure and collapse after using cocaine, a cardiac arrhythmia triggered by the use of the drug that eventually killed him. His unexpected passing is one of the great tragedies of Celtics and NBA history — rest in peace.
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Bias shared his birthday with former Celtics center Garfield Smith, born this day in 1945 in Campbellsville, Kentucky. An alum of Eastern Kentucky University, Garfield was picked 32nd overall in the 1968 NBA draft.
— Honest☘️Larry (@HonestLarry1) November 18, 2020
The Kentucky native played two seasons with the Celtics, averaging 2.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.
Ex-Boston guard and current assistant coach Sam Cassell was born on this day as well, in 1969 in Baltimore, Maryland.
A former Florida State Seminole, Cassell was taken 24th overall by the Houston Rockets in the 1993 NBA draft and played for that club, the Phoenix Suns, (then) New Jersey (now, Brooklyn) Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Los Angeles Clippers before joining the Celtics.
He played just one season with the team — winning a title with the Banner 17 crew — in which he put up 7.6 points, 1.8 boards, and 2.1 assists per game.
Finally, it is also the anniversary of the trade in 1969 that sent Bob Cousy’s rights to the then-Cincinnati Royals (now, Sacramento Kings) so the former Celtics icon could be a player-coach at age 41 to help his struggling franchise sell tickets.
Celtic GM Red Auerbach still held his former player’s rights more than a half-decade after his retirement and forced the trade of forward Bill Dinwiddie to Boston to secure his playing rights — ruthless.
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