passed, and I became a little more established. The job was going pretty well.
But then I started doing more cocaine. There was no pattern to it. I just did
more and more, wasting my paycheck, going up to Astoria, Queens, back where I
had scored coke before the Big East all-star trip. Same dealers, same place. I
was getting to know them better, and they'd give me better deals.
Before long, I
realized I could order a company cab, sign someone else's name and number on
the voucher and go anywhere. Astoria was only a phone call away. I became a
monster with those cabs.
And then came
June 19, 1986, the day Len Bias died.
When I got to
work that day, one of the guys on the desk had just called Sports Phone.
"Gary, did you hear? Len Bias died." I was freaking out. I called
Sports Phone and heard it myself. And then I ran out of the office and into the
bathroom, where I cried for about an hour.
I knew Len. We
had grown up together on the basketball circuit, and I'd played against him
twice while he was at Maryland. He seemed so innocent in person, but so
relentless on the court. He was going to be the NBA's best, and news of his
death tore me apart.
At first I had no
idea he had died from drugs. I didn't even know Len got high. Some of the guys
in the office asked me, and I said, "No way. Not Len." When the cause
of his death became known a few days later—it was a cocaine-induced heart
attack—I freaked out all over again. "This——is getting everybody," I
thought. "It's getting crazy." I couldn't understand why God would take
somebody who was finally ready to enjoy the fruits of all his hard work. But I
was sick, so sick that Len's death didn't come as enough of a blow to jolt me
out of my own habits.
I'm sure a lot of
addicts were moved by his death, at least for a while. But, as addicts, they'd
then go right on with their destructive behavior. That afternoon, when I left
work, I went to Flutie's, a bar and restaurant at the South Street Seaport. I
ran into Dick Stockton, the CBS announcer, and his wife, Lesley Visser, a
sportswriter for The Boston Globe. They were saying, "Sad thing about
Len." I nodded my agreement. Then I got drunk, bought cocaine and got high
By this point,
getting drugs was easy. I had a pot connection right around the corner from my
office, a guy I called Crazy Eddie, who sold reefer right out on the street. I
was going to him almost every day until, as I was going downhill, the pot
seemed to be going downhill, too. I compensated with more cocaine.
I would have a
company cab pick me up in front of RMJ, on Water Street, and take me to
Astoria. The driver would wait while I went down a sidewalk, between the
buildings and out of sight. The dealers hung out at a playground in the middle
of the project. Sometimes I bought it right there. Sometimes I went into a
building where someone weighed out my cocaine.
Then I went back
to the cab to go home or back to Manhattan. The cab drivers never questioned
anything. I tipped them well, and with cash, not vouchers. They liked that.