- The Washington Times - Monday, September 16, 2002

The mystery in Tahiti goes with Bison Dele, the ex-NBA player with the multimillion dollar skills and the quixotic-like quest raging inside him.
Dele has been missing since July 8, along with his girlfriend, Serena Karlan, and the captain of his 55-foot catamaran, Bertrand Saldo. The sailboat has been recovered, though repainted and renamed, two bad signs, to be sure.
This is a movie-of-the-week saga, too out there to be real, except in the life of the left-handed enigma.
This is the one-time wunderkind who transferred from the University of Maryland after one impressive season to be reunited with an old high school teammate at Arizona. One of his roommates at Arizona, so the story goes, was a nude mannequin, which appealed to his artsy interests.
Dele played with five NBA teams in eight seasons, as if eternally bound to be restless, picking up a championship ring with the Bulls in 1997. He left the Pistons and the NBA following the 1999 season, with more than $30million left on his contract, to open a water-purification plant in Beirut, Lebanon, hardly a hot destination among the fabulously wealthy and tall.
Dele moved to Perth, Australia, after Beirut. That was the word anyway. But who knows? With Dele, you never could be certain what was what. He was odd, peculiar, eccentric, whichever adjective you prefer, by the customary behavioral standards of the NBA. He also was Brian Williams before he changed his name in 1998.
He made the change to celebrate his American Indian heritage and sense of desire, which was a desire in part to break free from the shackles of the jock culture. He played basketball because it was expected, because that is the way it is in America for someone with a 6-foot-11, 260-pound body. He also had a gift for the game, just not the day-to-day devotion to it.
Dele was the distracted basketball player, which led to the distraction of the coaches around him. He might have been more comfortable in an art museum than in the locker room. He was 30 years old when he left the NBA, way too young and still dripping with potential. He could have been an All-Star.
When word leaked from his agent last winter that he was contemplating a comeback, the Pistons expressed intrigue. His baggage could be accepted in exchange for a look. The notion soon passed, not unlike so many other inclinations in Dele's orbit. He found religion. Or did it find him? Or was it a combination of religions? It depended on the day and his mercurial mood. He was not a bad guy, just a guy seemingly in search of something larger, and determined to find it.
Now he is missing, possibly the victim of foul play.
Of course, Dele also could be hang gliding off an itty-bitty island in the South Seas, plotting his next challenge, unaware that he is the focus of an international manhunt. That is the hope, distant as it may be.
The FBI is especially interested in talking with Dele's 35-year-old brother, Miles Dabord, also known as Kevin Williams.
It seems changing names runs in the family. The brother even tried to go by a third name, that of Brian Williams, in trying to purchase $152,000 in gold in Phoenix. Questioned and released by police, the brother is now on the run. Mexican authorities found clothing and personal items belonging to Dabord in a Tijuana hotel room last Thursday.
The mother of the two is not talking to the media on the advice of the FBI, and the agent, Dwight Manley, concedes the facts of the case "don't bode well."
The facts are as unsettling as the ex-player.
Where is Bison Dele? Who is Bison Dele?
Both questions may go unanswered now.
Dele, his girlfriend and the captain have vanished somewhere amid the specks of land in the South Pacific, and Dele's brother is on the lam, wanted by the FBI.
Back in the U.S., another NBA season is just up ahead, the opening of training camp two weeks away. Dele could have been in one of those camps, living it up, living the life of the rich and pampered. But that wasn't him. It wasn't who he wanted to be. He was too much the free spirit.
So in the end, he did what some in the work-a-day world only threaten to do. He woke up one day and chucked it all. Just like that, he walked away from an excess of $30million and decided to see the world.
It is hoped Dele is still around to see more of it.

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