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Among the great athletes of the 20th century Julius Erving, Dr. J, deserves mention among the most famous, most relevant, best and most impactful. He played professional basketball from 1971 to 1987, 11 years in the NBA for Philadelphia, five years in the ABA for two different teams. Dr J, who has been referenced here quite a bit, albeit without a thread, introduced artistic soaring, starting from the outer edge of the court slam dunking to the NBA. He was certainly not the first, but he elevated it and turned it into a "thing", now, and for 3 decades one of the most commented and revered parts of the game. During his first five years of professional ball he played in the upstart ABA, winning two championships and dominated his team and the league, at times leading his team in points rebounds assists and guarding the best forward on the other team. In the NBA he led a Philadelphia team that kept competing for a championship all the while featuring the individual play of stars, (like Erving) while negating the team game. Frankly I got to watch him a bit in the 70's and 80's. In the 70's I saw him play for the Nets against a Denver team with a similarly talented super duper star, David Thompson, wherein they both elevated their games to lead their teams and created one of the more memorable sporting events I've ever seen. Dr J is among the 50 great basketball players of all time, appropriately so. Some of his most startling plays..... and then a look at his ABA slam dunk competition against among others David Thompson.....
Yeah, Elvin: got to watch him while he was with the Bullets. Elvin had a variety of skills that contributed toward winning. While he played here the Bullets were in the NBA finals 3 times winning once. He shared big man responsibilities with Wes Unseld and those two made that team one of the best in the league over that era. Elvin was also a “black hole” as a shooter. Get him the ball in that down low position and he never passed back- shooting all the time. IIRC he was also “indestructible” virtually never missing games. Come to think of it. if he didn’t play with Unseld so long he would have accumulated lot’s more rebounds. So much for pure stats, in that case, as the two were a formidable big man tandem that made the team strong. Here is a link to tremendous research on Hayes, his development, his “prickly” personality, and life provided by a a hard working DC sports fan. Great research: I pulled that “black hole” comment from memory, but the article gives it perspective of which I was unaware. Interesting that Hayes and Unseld were a phenomenal historically strong big man combo but their personal relationship was far less than ideal.