BISON Dele’s death has remained one of the greatest tragedies and mysteries in NBA history.
Five years after winning the NBA title with the Chicago Bulls in 1997, the 33-year-old went missing while on a catamaran in the South Pacific along with his girlfriend Serena.
Bison Dele joined the Chicago Bulls in 1997Credit: Getty
Dele dunks the ball during the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah JazzCredit: Getty
Dele (left) celebrates the NBA title with Phil Jackson and Michael JordanCredit: Getty
The former NBA star is assumed to have been killed by his brother, but the case remains unsolved to this day.
Dele’s body has never been found while his brother Kevin, also known as Miles Dabord, died in a suspected suicide attempt while under suspicion for murder.
Born Brian Williams, the 6-foot-11 center was selected as the No. 10 pick in the 1991 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic.
After struggling to find his way with the Magic and Denver Nuggets, he had a standout season with the Los Angeles Clippers in 1995-96, averaging 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
After a contract dispute with the Clippers, he joined Michael Jordan’s Bulls and played a key role as a backup during their run to the 1997 NBA title.
That short stint with the Bulls led the Detroit Pistons signing him to a contract worth $45million over seven years.
But after changing his name to Bison Dele to honor his Native American ancestry, he walked away from the game in 1999 and the $36.45million remaining of his contract with the Pistons.
Drawing on $16million career earnings, he extensively traveled around the Mediterranean, Australia, and the South Pacific.
There he bought a catamaran for $650,000 and named it Hukuna Matata and sailed around the region.
In early 2002, Dele and his girlfriend Serena Karlan were joined by his brother, with whom he had long had a strained relationship.
During that summer, Dele and Karlan went missing along with the captain of his sailboat, Bertrand Saldo.
There were no clues as to what happened as the US Coast Guard tried in vain to solve the case.
But in September, a man claiming to be Dele attempted to buy $152,000 in gold in Phoenix.
That individual was Dele’s brother Kevin, who had changed his name to Miles Dabord.
Dabord was apprehended but was let go by the Phoenix police force.
He was already being chased by the FBI after a man fitting Dabord’s description piloted Dele’s catamaran into a harbor in Tahiti, which he had renamed, and flew to Los Angeles.
Dabord was suspected of killing his brother, along with his girlfriend and the captain of the catamaran.
But in September Dabord was found dead after overdosing on insulin in a suspected suicide attempt.
A memorial service for both brothers was held in October 2002.
”Miles has always been in his shadow,” Dele and Dabord’s mother Patricia Phillips told The New York Times.
”He was always feeling he wasn’t as valued or as loved. I’m sure that was in play over the last six months on that boat.
”But I can’t lay innocence or blame anywhere, not until I know what happened.
“I can’t make this Cain and Abel until I know for sure.
”My boys are gone and neither of them can ever tell me what happened.
”For six months, I’ve had this romantic notion about my boys, just imagining all they were doing and learning and seeing.
“Now I don’t want to think or feel.”