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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.....
Admittedly I'm a basketball junkie. Its nice to have an outlet like this section of DR.com. I can rip off a quick piece without the need to create my own blog, be an editor, research, write, rewrite, edit, find and place pictures, and spend an enormous amount of time on each piece. This is easier, quicker. Thanks, Don. But I found this article, "Kevin Love: Overrated, Underrated, or Properly Rated?" about the ongoing Kevin Love trade, written by Bill Simmons to include a wonderful piece that completely captures the unique basketball brilliance that made Barkley one of the signature players of the NBA. Simmons is the editor of Grantland a repository of smart and clever writers about sports. Simmon's expertise is basketball. He is an unabashed junkie, a fan, a Boston Celtics homer, and combines love of the game with research and wonderful writing. In the above referenced article he strives to dissect the Kevin Love trade to Cleveland matching Love up with LeBron James. Its a high risk trade on behalf of both teams. Cleveland is giving up someone who could develop into an all-time all star, Andrew Wiggins before he ever plays a game in the NBA. Love is a current star, but is not an all-time transcendent player. Wiggins might develop into one of those unique players. Wiggins almost assuredly couldn't pair with LeBron at this point and contribute the strengths that Love can provide right now. The trade offers drama and its consequences or who made out best won't be decided for years to come. Meanwhile matching Love with Lebron today creates the possibility of an instant top of the line contender for NBA championship honors for next season and possibly a couple of seasons. Simmons' articles often include long discourses on NBA history and various stars. He has an inimitable style of writing with catchy phrases and thoughts. I thought he hit a home run in this one especially as he compared Love to Barkley when Barkley was traded in his prime. Simmons acknowledges Love is no Barkley and here are his thoughts on "Sir Charles" when he was at his best...... (my bolding of certain lines below) I agree with Simmons. During Barkley's early years in Philadelphia I often purchased packages of games to the Wizards/Bullets. The Bullets and 76ers played often. Barkley was a magical player with a magical dimension. Nobody has played quite like him before or since. When Barkley grabbed a rebound on the defensive side and turned to race down the court on a drive, the seas would part. No player would dare to get in his way. No player has had so much bulk, racing at so much speed, hell bent toward the basket. I sat in the stands and wanted to get out of the way. He was SCARY. Scary good and talented. But forget what I write. Reread Simmons above. "Barkley a tornado with legs"....."F---this I'm getting out of the way" That is exactly as I recall him. Never seen anything like it, before or since.
Well, *someone* had to think of it. Two amazing facts: 1) Elgin Baylor never won a scoring championship (Michael Jordan won 10) (*). 2) Elgin Baylor never won an NBA championship (Bill Russell won 11). This, despite being #4 in NBA history in points-per-game scored, and an 11-time All Star. (*) Amazingly, another player from Spingarn High School did. Yes, you read that right.