Learning How to Live from Reggie Lewis and Lenny Bias


Still so many questions left when talking about Reggie Lewis 20 years later.

In sports, especially basketball, it feels like things are always guaranteed. Like things will always happen just the way that they seem. Sure, upsets happen here and there, but other than that things pretty much go by the book.

The best of the best teams make the playoffs each year, the best players are always racing for the same MVP trophy, the team names don’t change year to year to year. Things always keep an expected consistency in the world of sports. Hell, some players even have guaranteed contract money. The comfort of consistency and predictability are all over the place.

Things always seem to go this way, but what if things don’t ever get the chance to? What if an unexpected change in a variable just comes about? What happens when we don’t know what happens?

Those are the “what if” topics of the sports conversation. The things that could’ve happened but never did. What if player A played for Team B instead of Team A? What if Kobe Bryant was drafted by the Boston Celtics? What if this, what if that? So on and so forth. These things spark huge debates among the sporting community for better or worse.

But then, there are those “what if” moments that you wish just never existed. The Boston Celtics have faced two of the most famous what ifs in sporting history. What if Len Bias had played for the Celtics? What if he didn’t go party that night? What happens to the organization going into the future?

What if Reggie Lewis never had heart problems? What if he didn’t pass on that meaningless July day in the NBA offseason? Would we have ever seen a down moment in Celtics history?

What if these two were going to be two of the greatest Celtics to ever touch the hardwood?

The truth is that we’ll never know–we can only speculate. Len Bias was supposed to be as good, or maybe even better, than Michael Jordan as a player. Reggie Lewis was supposed to be an All-Star that took the Boston Celtics back to where they were as a franchise.

These two could’ve combined to bring the Boston Celtics multiple championships if they had been able to combine forces. Things weren’t supposed to happen that way, and 20 years later after Lewis’ death, Celtics fans still can’t face the pain.

The fact of the matter is that life just isn’t fair sometimes. Things that should happen, don’t always happen. You can never really take a moment for granted as long as you are on this Earth. You never know when your last moment will be.

For better or worse, these two sporting icons represent that. Even the smallest mistakes on the most irrelevant and seemingly innocent nights can come back to haunt us. Taking care of yourself and those around you is paramount for a person.

These moments are just unforeseeable, really. There’s nothing that we can do about that. What we can do is make sure that we cross our t’s and dot our i’s going forward. The only way to prevent things like this from happening is by doing our due diligence and making sure that we’re doing what is best for us.

Though their legacies on the court won’t be remembered as much as their tragic final moments as human beings, Bias and Lewis can teach us a lesson about how we should live our lives. This isn’t to say that we’re–or that we should be. This isn’t to say that they should’ve been perfect, either.  Its just learning from mistakes of the past and doing our best to correct our flaws.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with that. “What if” moments don’t always have to exist if they can be prevented. If they were still here, I’m sure Reggie Lewis and Lenny Bias would be preaching the same things.