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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.....
Who knew?! PS - If you have an image of Pistol Pete in your mind, and want it preserved, then don't watch this video. I've heard horror stories of Willie Mays playing for the New York Mets, and I suspect they aren't that much different than this. "Remembering The Sad And Too-Short Celtic Stint Of Pete Maravich" by Professor Parquet on celticsblog.com --- [The following posts have been split into separate threads: Pete Maravich (daveo) Nate Archibald (Barbara)]
The last line in this video can teach us that greatness almost *always* stands on the backs of giants. Had Erving only known, had he had himself to draw from, had he spent ten years practicing this dunk and training to do it, who knows what kind of flare he would have come up with? Instead, it's something he came up with on short notice. Michael Jordan and Vince Carter (shown at the end of the video) grew up in their gyms dreaming about being Dr. J. One very interesting component to Jordan's version: He held the ball low, with a bent elbow, at the same level of his forehead, right up until the point when he began to descend. Only then did he slowly extend his arm upward, so it appeared that he was rising the entire way to the basket, when, in fact, he began dropping long before he reached the rim. It was a brilliant slight-of-hand illusion, and was probably well-thought-out in advance.