A Glimpse of a Great Rivalry: Michael Jordan Faces Len Bias at Cole Field House in 1984

After his freshman year, Bias realized he needed to work on his main weakness – dribbling the basketball – if he wanted to be a dominant force in the NBA, so he asked incoming freshman guard Keith Gatlin for help. Gatlin and Bias worked together all that summer, playing one-on-one in Cole Field House, with Bias wearing special dribble glasses that didn’t allow him to look down at the ball. At times, they started their sessions near midnight after getting back from a movie. 

With improved ball-handling skills and a renewed sense of purpose, Bias would help Maryland to one of its most rewarding seasons. Maryland began the season ranked No. 8 in the country. By the time the Terrapins met top-ranked North Carolina on January 12, they were 10-1 and had moved up to No. 5. Thanks in large part to Bias, who scored a career-high 24 points while helping to hold Michael Jordan to 21, Maryland trailed by just one point with about two minutes remaining before Jordan and fellow All-America Sam Perkins led Carolina to a 12-point victory. It was one of Bias’s best games of the season. Further, it showcased a potential and dynamic rivalry between Jordan and Bias for years to come, but it was one that never materialized.

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