Middle-aged guys from around here have a ritual: Every year around this time, we remember where we were when we found out Len Bias died.
Me? I was at the City Paper offices on the morning of June 19, 1986. At the time, I was an intern doing arts listings in the paper’s headquarters, a small rowhouse on 6th Street NW which for reasons that mystify me still stands.
It was hot and I was sweaty, as per usual. I went out to get something soft to drink at a liquor store down the block, and the guy behind the counter asked me if I liked basketball.
I said yes, with goofy enthusiasm.
“You like Len Bias?” he said.
“I love Len Bias!” I told him, even goofier and with absolute earnestness.
“He’s dead,” the clerk said.
So 25 years ago Sunday, if you saw a soggy white guy crying into a bottle of seltzer water in Chinatown, maybe that was me.