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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.....
This human pogo stick deserves his own thread. I can think of three unstoppable shots off the top of my head in NBA history: Elvin Hayes backing in to the basket on his strong side, then turning around and shooting a fadeaway bank shot; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's sky hook, and Kevin Durant's jump-back from 25 feet. Critics say all he needs to become the "total offensive weapon" is to put on some upper-body muscle; I disagree. Let him wait until later to muscle up; right now, he's so quick that he can do anything - drive past you and tomahawk it, or back off and shoot a three. When he's in his 30s, then he can hit the weights - let him stay slender while he's young. The only comparable player I can think of, style-wise, is Dirk Nowitzki. Tonight, he broke his string of 12 consecutive 30-point games, and he did it by scoring 24 points, going 10-for-12 from the field, sitting out the entire 4th quarter, and dishing out 7 assists - many of them to Serge Ibaka who went 12-for-12 from the field: the two combined to go 22-for-24! This is just crazy what we're witnessing right now. Jordan, Bryant, Maravich, Erving, Bird, James - I've never seen more jaw-dropping highlight reels (although some of Jordan's and Bird's come close). All Durant needs is longevity, and he could well become the NBA's all-time leading scorer.
To bolster your point, Jason Kidd is currently #26 all-time in defensive rebounds, which is a statistic I find to be pretty amazing (he was #25 when I wrote this post, but has since been passed by Pau Gasol). He was also selected nine times to be All-NBA Defensive First- or Second-Team