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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.....

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I mean that he isn't visible publicly these days. He will always be a Philly hero, but he's just not part of the conversation these days.

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23 minutes ago, DanielK said:

I mean that he isn't visible publicly these days. He will always be a Philly hero, but he's just not part of the conversation these days.

I was kidding. :)

(I was actually taking a swipe at Philly.) ☺️

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1 hour ago, DanielK said:

I mean that he isn't visible publicly these days. He will always be a Philly hero, but he's just not part of the conversation these days.

I got to watch Doc play in person a fair number of times--I'm not sure...possibly 6-10 times or so, once in Long Island--all the rest down here.  The down here portion would have been during his period for the 76'ers till he retired....possibly once or more (or less) a year.  Philly was a fun team to watch.   They featured the best most athletic players.  At their best they also coincided with great Celtics teams.  They were formidable.  Their style was more free flowing.  Doc, or another star might take control at any moment. 

Doc, as has been said was ahead of his time.  He featured the flowing flying, from anywhere slam dunk or float to the basket.  He was human poetry.  He was distinguished.  At any time he could make a play that was not going to be duplicated by anyone else in the league.  Even in his last years it seemed that he could beat defenders from the outside, soar, and either dunk or float one in.    The above might sound rote, but it was the opposite--stupendous.

Its been 30 plus years since he retired.   I didn't live in Philly, but had I --I would have gotten to watch Doc do the supernatural about 20 times a year in person.  That would have been thrilling.  He really played on a higher level.

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21 hours ago, DonRocks said:

If he still had the afro, he'd be able to get that last inch for the jam.

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This is a wonderful, accolade rich 1 hr long perspective on Dr. J, covering his life, from that of a little boy, through his development as a teenager, as a college player, joining the pro's, being traded to the 76'ers, winning the championship, and taking him to the death of his then 19 year old son and then beyond.   It's very rich and enhanced by the comments of many including teammates, commentators, fans, etc.  Just a great watch.

Hmmm.  Dr J spanned the era in between the end of the 60's Celtics dynasty, the 70's (a mixed decade of basketball) and then the 80's dominated by the Lakers and Celtics.  Throughout he defined stardom and class;  an athlete at the peak of respect and elegance:  a superstar who transcended athletics:

Must add something.  While this is a terrific piece it is strongly "pro Julius".  Can't blame them.  One little note:  In the 1977 NBA championship;  a series won by Portland 4-2 with Philly winning the first 2 games and Portland taking the last 4, there is a "little" flaw on the DR. J. list of accomplishments.

Sure Dr J upped his game and had a killer final series.  He took over the role of dominance during the series.  Regardless Portland noticed that J would veer off covering Bob Gross, the Portland small forward.  Gross a serviceable forward was never known for his scoring during an average career.   Nevertheless during the final two games he scored 24 and 25 points, hitting 10 of 13 and 12 of 16 in those last two games, super duper stats.   He scored those points as Portland realized Julius sluffed off him during the series.  Not mentioned above.

Regardless...over a long history:  Dr J a truly historic figure in modern American sports.

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2 hours ago, Bob Wells said:

That was Pistol Pete Maravich's final season in the NBA and he went 10-15 on 3s. He would have averaged 60 per game in college and 35-40 in the pros with the three-point option. 

This is a Julius Erving video, but note the "behind-the-back, between-the-legs" pass from Maravich on the very first highlight.

(Note also the facials Erving applied both to Rick Barry and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.)

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15 hours ago, DonRocks said:

This is a Julius Erving video, but note the "behind-the-back, between-the-legs" pass from Maravich on the very first highlight.

(Note also the facials Erving applied both to Rick Barry and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.)

Great stuff Don! That pass from Pete reminds me of Ernie DiGregorio. If Marvin Barnes hadn't gone down in the first half vs Memphis St in the national semifinal (at which time PC was crushing Memphis), the world would have been treated to an epic final of PC vs UCLA.

It's a shame there's no existing footage of some of the Doctor's best work while he was in the ABA.

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8 hours ago, Bob Wells said:

It's a shame there's no existing footage of some of the Doctor's best work while he was in the ABA.

It must exist, or there wouldn't be highlight videos.

(Erving is one of only 8 ABA/NBA players with over 30,000 points.)

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On 2/21/2020 at 5:59 PM, DonRocks said:

It must exist, or there wouldn't be highlight videos.

(Erving is one of only 8 ABA/NBA players with over 30,000 points.)

Some! Not close to comprehensive.

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