- GEN - Talent, Trouble and Tragedy: The NBA's Class of '86

Outside the Lines
Tuesday, June 5
Talent, Trouble and Tragedy: The NBA's Class of '86

Len Bias. Chris Washburn. Roy Tarpley.

They are just a few of the names NBA commissioner David Stern rattled off as teams made their first-round draft selections 15 years ago. They are the same names that later appeared in the headlines of stories of woe and tragedy.

Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman, part of the NBA's Draft Class of 1986, may have five NBA championship rings, but he also has had his share of trouble.
The NBA Draft of Class 1986, which like so many before and after it, included a talented collection of basketball players who offered teams in need high hopes for their futures. In as many times as not, that hope went unfulfilled.

Just two days after the Boston Celtics made him the second selection in the draft, Bias, a star forward out of Maryland, died of a cocaine overdose. Washburn, William Bedford and Tarpley – respectively the third, sixth and seventh picks in the draft – all have had long-term drug problems that plagued them throughout their careers.

"The drug thing hit the college campuses like – boom!" Larry Finch, a former Memphis State assistant coach, said with a snap of his fingers, "where all of a sudden, here it is and we all got a big-time problem. A person with the financial means, and all of a sudden all these people are thrusting, throwing money his way. Now what would you do?"

"But I do feel that, a lot of young men was disillusioned about playing ball – and mixing those drugs together," Finch said. "If you think about it, guys that are really on drugs feel that they can do anything and not worry about the concequency of putting that stuff in their bodies."

Below is a look at the first-round selections of the '86 draft.

Others who drafted in later rounds include Dennis Rodman, who won five NBA championship rings, including two as a Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boy", and three more with the Chicago Bulls; Mark Price, a perennial NBA All-Star with the Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers; and Jeff Hornacek, who helped the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals before retiring last season.

Who's Who Among The NBA's Draft Class of 1986 First-Rounders
No. Team Player College Comment
1 Cleveland Brad Daugherty North Carolina Five-time All-Star played eight seasons with Cavs, averaging 19 points and 9.5 rebounds.
2 Boston Len Bias Maryland Died two days after the draft from a drug overdose.
3 Golden State Chris Washburn N.C. State Played two NBA seasons, 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds for the Warriors and Hawks.
4 Indiana Chuck Person Auburn "The Rifleman" played 13 seasons in the NBA, averaging 14.7 points and 5.1 rebounds.
5 New York Kenny Walker Kentucky The 1989 NBA Slam Dunk champion played seven NBA seasons with the Knicks and Bullets.
6 Phoenix William Bedford Memphis St. After six NBA seasons, journeyman center now faces charges of drug possession.
7 Dallas Roy Tarpley Michigan After six seasons with Mavericks, he was banned from NBA for drug and alcohol abuse.
8 Cleveland Ron Harper Miami (Ohio) Now in 15th season, he is pursuing his fifth NBA championship and second with Lakers.
9 Chicago Brad Sellers Ohio State Played six NBA seasons with four teams, averaging 6.3 points a game.
10 San Antonio Johnny Dawkins Duke Played nine NBA seasons with the Spurs, 76ers and Pistons.
11 Detroit John Salley Georgia Tech "The Spider" played 11 seasons, winning four NBA titles with the Pistons, Bulls and Lakers.
12 Washington John Williams LSU Played eight NBA seasons with Bullets, Clippers and Pacers.
13 New Jersey Dwayne Washington Syracuse "The Pearl" played three NBA seasons with the Nets and Heat.
14 Portland Walter Berry St. John's Played three NBA seasons with four teams.
15 Utah Dell Curry Virginia Tech In his 15th season, he is with his fifth team, averaging six points with the Raptors.
16 Denver Maurice Martin St. Joseph's Played two seasons with the Nuggets, but never started in 69 games.
17 Sacramento Harold Pressley Villanova Played four seasons with the Kings, averaging nine points a game.
18 Denver Mark Alarie Duke Averaged 7.5 points in five seasons with the Nuggets and Bullets.
19 Atlanta Billy Thompson Louisville Traded to the Lakers, where he won two NBA titles. Finished six-year career with Heat and Warriors.
20 Houston Buck Johnson Alabama Averaged 9.1 points over a seven-year career, six with the Rockets.
21 Washington Anthony Jones UNLV Played with four teams in three NBA seasons, starting only four games in his career.
22 Milwaukee Scott Skiles Michigan St. Three-point specialist in 10 seasons, he is now coach of the Phoenix Suns.
23 L.A. Lakers Ken Barlow Notre Dame Didn't play an NBA game after being cut in the preseason.
24 Portland Arvydas Sabonis USSR He didn't join the Blazers until the 1995-96 season after a pro career in Russia and Spain.

Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories

Garber: Rise and fall in Memphis

William Bedford: 'People don't think about the consequences'

Baskerville Holmes: 'I got so much on my mind, I don't know what to do'

Andre Turner: 'You have to move on ... with life'

 Dana Kirk on Mystery of '86 draft.
avi: 2524 k
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN
Cable Modem