Ever wonder what the 1990s would have been like had Len Bias and Reggie Lewis lived to fulfill their respective destinies? Bias, of course, didn’t live long enough to don a Celtics uniform. Lewis was just coming into his own as the quiet, unassuming superstar when he was cut down by a heart ailment during the summer of ’93. While greatness was predicted for Bias, Lewis was a good player who was working hard to become great.
Never happened, and that’s a shame. Few athletes were as genuinely respected as Reggie Lewis. He gave freely of his time and his money, and you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who had a bad word to say about him.
It’s ironic that Bias died from a cocaine overdose, and there were those who rushed to protect his legacy by claiming his first experiment with drugs had been his last. And then there’s Lewis – while his death was clearly caused by a heart defect, there were some who claimed that the scarring on his heart had been caused by cocaine.
We’ll never know for sure, but my guess is that Lewis was as clean as the day is long. He suffered from a heart abnormality that threatened his NBA career and tragically took his life. I hate that. Life is not fair, and Lewis is a prime example of that. But I choose to remember the man with the quiet grace, the player who was blossoming into an All-Star-caliber talent, the gifted leader who was quickly being looked at as The Next Great Celtic.
As we get set to start another NBA season, it’s good to give pause and give thanks for the time that Lewis was with us. The Celtics organization is a better place for it, and his life was not lived in vain. We’ll miss you, Reggie, always. But we will never forget.
We love you, m’man.