Lefty Driesell tells Maryland players about Len Bias, stopping Michael Jordan and more

Lefty Driesell was welcomed back to campus multiple times by the Maryland basketball community and was honored for his success in taking the program nationally in the 1970s and 1980s. When I returned to China in 2018, I visited with my then coach Mark Turgeon and his players. During that conversation, he shared his reflections on the death of his former star player Len Bias.

“I know there’s a lot of partying here. I can tell you that two of the best players I’ve ever had here, John Lucas and Len Bias, both ended up doing drugs. I don’t think they were here. When they were on drugs.” “If they did that, I would kill them. But I can tell you, don’t mess with drugs. Because what do drugs do to you? Mess with your mind, right? They do Mess with your head,” Driesell said in a video shared by the former Maryland assistant Nima Omidwar.

Bias, of course, died of a drug overdose two days after being drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1986. Lucas, the No. 1 pick in the 1976 draft, publicly battled drug addiction before sobering up and turning his energy to coaching players.

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“When you’re in college, get some rest. That’s what I thought too. Go to bed by 12 o’clock… Any pro or college player who’s having trouble, look what time it is. You know Leonard Bye When did Yas die? Three or four in the morning. He should have gone to bed. You go to bed before 12 o’clock every night and you will never be in trouble.”

The beloved former Terps coach was honored during Maryland’s game against Illinois on the day he died and was scheduled to be honored again earlier this season, but due to his failing health But failed to make the trip. But during that visit in 2018, he was clear-headed and energetic, commanding the attention of every staff member and player present. More of what I share:

On playing physical defense in practice:You guys, in practice, you have to put that guy in front of you and beat the crap out of him. If I guard Melo (Trimble), I’m going to put him on his ass. He’s not going to put these damn layouts on me… It’s going to make me better. When I get into the game, it feels like I’m on vacation. So when you’re guarding each other in practice, be tough on that guy. So when you play Ohio State tomorrow, (you think), ‘This guy can’t save me. He is soft. ‘”

Ageing: “When you get to 85, you can’t remember names. All you do is (try) to remember names and go to the bathroom. I go to the bathroom every five minutes. So you’ll know if you’re still alive like I am also 85 years old.”

On Herman Veal closing Michael Jordan: “In the summer, I would sit down and talk about who was going to be my starting forward. Who was going to be my guard? Who was going to be my center? And (the Mavericks’) name never came up. I said, ‘Hell, He can’t dribble, he can’t shoot. Now, he can defend and rebound, but he can’t do anything else. (He became) my starting forward… We beat Michael Jordan here, (against) North Carolina. You know how many points Michael Jordan scored in the second half? Zero. He never got zeroed.

“At halftime, Michael Jordan scored 17 points. Now I come in at halftime and I’m like, ‘Who the hell can guard Michael Jordan? This idiot scored 17 points.'” Herman said let me Take him away. I said, “You can’t keep him, Herman, he’s too fast for you.” (He said) “Let me take him!” (And Jordan) didn’t score. Check out the score. Now you all remember. Because he’s a defensive animal”

About Tom MacMillan: “During the season, I let him shoot. But in the offseason, his philosophy was (to practice shooting all the time). I said, ‘Tom, get out of the gym, what are you doing here?’ He said, ‘I have to be better than Bill Walton shot more, and Bill Walton was a senior at the time. “I’m shooting more than any player in America today,” he said. “That’s why he can shoot. He’s a great shooter.”


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