An Interactive Sports Experience



Feb 25, 2014

ESPN produced a show called 30 for 30, which highlighted the life of Benjamin “Benji” Wilson. The documentary of Wilson is very reminiscent of all the basketball stars that never had a chance to make their mark in the NBA. Benji Wilson was the first nationally ranked high school player in the country. The 30 for 30 documentary showcased a skill-set of a very special young player. Wilson exhibited NBA caliber attributes during his sophomore and junior seasons at Simeon Vocational High School in Chicago, Illinois. During the early 80’s, his game was viewed as being ahead of its time.

Benji was a duel threat player who had the skill to score from both inside and out. He was a high percentage shooter from the field as well as the free-throw line. Wilson was also known as a great defender who thrived on shot blocking. Tragically, Benji Wilson was gunned down a block away from Simeon Vocational after an altercation with another young man. In the early 80’s Benji Wilson was considered to be one of the most influential figures in Chicago, along with Oprah Winfrey, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Michael Jordan and Harold Washington the first African American Mayor of Chicago.

Hank Gathers was a college basketball star during the late 80’s at Loyola Marymount University in California. Gathers was a “beast” of a player during his time at LMU. He put together his best collegiate season in 1988-89 when he became the second player in NCAA history to lead the nation in scoring and rebounding. Gathers averaged 32.7 points and 13.7 rebounds per game, while leading Loyola Marymount to the NCAA Tournament.

During his senior season he became a candidate for National Player of the Year honors, which ultimately lead to a NBA lottery pick projection. Unfortunately, Hank died on the basketball court in a game against the University of Portland in the West Coast Conference (WCC) tournament. Hank completed an earth shattering alley-oop dunk and collapsed as he ran down the court. Doctors explained the cause of death as a heart muscle disorder called “Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.”

Len Bias was a star player at the University of Maryland during the early 80’s. The basketball skills he exhibited were a blend of power and finesse. Bias impressed NBA scouts with his leaping ability, ball handling, physical stature, and overall playmaking skills. Len Bias was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the 2nd pick in the 1986 NBA draft. Boston envisioned Len Bias as a star who could have kept the winning tradition of the Celtics going into the future. On the night Bias was drafted, he went home to be with family and friends. Later that night he returned to his campus dorm room and snorted cocaine with a few friends. The over-usage of cocaine caused Cardiac Arrhythmia, which ultimately cut his life and dreams tragically short.

All three of these men are examples of “what could have been.” They all would have been NBA players with possible Hall of Fame careers. Other players that did not reach their full potential due to death: Reggie Lewis, (Celtics) Drazen Petrovic, (Nets) Bobby Phills (Hornets) and Malik Sealy. (Timberwolves) All exhibited skills that made them stand out above the average player. Sadly, the only thing left to do now is wonder.


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One comment

  1. Kenya Wash /

    What a thought provoking article! I feel for their families.

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