MEMORIES OF LENNY BIAS
There is one pause and “second guessing moment” during my drug and alcohol use I remember well during the climb to the apex of the addiction roller coaster when I still got the feelings of confidence and euphoria I was looking for. It was in 1986. The very first time I used cocaine. The downstairs bathroom of one of the nicest hotels in Dallas befitting of my powdered cocaine only status and my new status as a licensed attorney (at least in Pennsylvania, I had not take the Texas Bar yet).
Shiny marble, mouthwash and breath-mints and the ultimate bonus, a toilet door that closed completely so no one could see in. With the bathroom attendant standing just outside my door handing out towels and mints, (when bathroom attendants were common in upscale hotels) I carefully laid out three lines of cocaine given to me by the drug dealer I was introduced to for the first time twenty minute earlier. I rolled up a twenty-dollar bill and bent over the white Kohler commode. I laid out the lines of blow on top of mixing my cocaine in with grime, germs and undoubtedly the residue from previous guys like me.
As the cocaine begin it’s journey up the straw to change the course of my life, I had a thought. I thought about a man I had never met. I thought about a sport I hated, college basketball. I thought about a life tragically cut short by drugs. I thought about Lenny Bias. Lenny, a first round draft pick of the NBA Boston Celtics in 1986. Lenny, a “can’t miss” future NBA. Lenny, a cautionary tale that anyone can die using cocaine the first time or the one-thousandth time. No warning. No second chance. Just dead.
Lenny died in such a way on July 19th 1986. Just under three months before I leaned over the toilet in that bathroom with a straw up my nose. It was international, front page news. It occurred to me in that moment that I had no idea what I was putting my my nose any more than Lenny did. I was chasing a feeling that I had been chasing since my teens. That chase was more powerful then thoughts of Lenny. The chase was more powerful than the other fleeting, cautionary, sound judgment thoughts that went through my mind. Addiction hijacks caution and judgment. It didn’t matter. Moments later, I would love who I saw in the mirror. I would be invincible for short period. I would want to be invincible again. What happened to Lenny would never happen to me. He just had bad luck. The mind of an addict.