The Len Bias Legacy, According to Podcast Interviewees

By Kevin F. McNulty

GoGrady Media Correspondent

Len Bias at Maryland

As GoGrady Media prepares to release its podcast series about the life and death of Len Bias, the word “legacy” has been at the forefront of many conversations. GGM has interviewed dozens of people, both those who knew Bias personally and those who had their lives impacted by him in some way.

Not all of the interviewees remember Bias in the same way, but all of them believe his legacy is lasting. Sports broadcaster and former Maryland gymnast Bonnie Bernstein described the dichotomy of the Bias legacy.

“On one hand, we know he was one of the greatest to play the game at the college level,” Bernstein said. “On the other hand, part of that legacy is the question mark. Question mark. There will always be a question mark, because he overdosed on cocaine. That’s powerful.”

Although it’s not that simple, a lot of people agree with Bernstein: there’s more than one element to the Bias legacy. Jeffrey Harding was the prosecutor in the trial of Brain Tribble, who allegedly supplied Bias with the cocaine that took his life, and even the man who prosecuted Bias’s friend saw the good with the bad.

“His real legacy is that he really presented two sides of the ruler to people. He said on this side of the ruler or you can be whatever you want to be… The other side of the ruler is the sad side. Drugs took his life. Not on purpose, but it took his life, and that should be an example,” Harding said.

One of the people outside of Bias’s team and family who knew him best was Johnny Holliday, the longtime radio broadcaster for Maryland athletics. In an interview with GGM, Holliday acknowledged Bias’s tremendous athletic ability and great career at Maryland, but he insisted that Bias’s impact on drugs and drug culture outweighed anything he did on the basketball court.

And that impact is still felt today.

“The lesson that young people have learned about the dangers of drugs, that’s probably the thing that stands out the most to this generation,” Holliday said.

Former Baltimore Sun reporter Molly Glassman saw Bias’s legacy in a different way. She thought everything Bias did before his death is what he should be remembered for.

“His legacy at Maryland, Glassman said, “is of a local kid who made good and worked his ass off to make himself a great basketball player.”

Whether the world agrees with Glassman, Holliday, or someone else, the legacy of Len bias persists.

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