Great Julius Erving StoriesHere are some great links about my all-time favorite player, the one and only Julius "Dr. J" Erving:
The Net-Ripping, Backboard-Shaking, Mind-Blowing Dr. J (Sports Illustrated, December 11, 1972)
Not even two months into Erving's second season, Peter Carry writes, "One school holds that he is already the best forward ever to play the game, another claims he needs a year or two more to polish up his defense and outside shot before he inevitably becomes the best."
Big Julie is Doing Nicely--Nicely (Sports Illustrated, January 14, 1974)
Peter Carry writes, "Julius Erving has brought his Dr. Nicely-Nicely routine back home to Long Island . He has done nicely on the floor, where he has led the youngest starting lineup in the pros—average age 22.6 years—back from a skitterish start and into title contention. He has done nicely off it as well, charming the clergy, his employers, the recently re-elected Nassau County Executive (whom he endorsed after extracting pledges for recreational programs for his hometown of Roosevelt), and even the Madison Avenue types who are after some endorsements of their own. Naturally enough, Dr. J. now spiels for Dr. Pepper."
The Doctor Opens His Medicine Bag (Sports Illustrated, May 17, 1976)
Pat Putnam offers this tribute to Erving's stellar play in the first four games of the 1976 ABA Finals (Erving's Nets went on to win in six games, claiming the final ABA title):
"Too bad, America, but you missed one of the greatest basketball shows on Earth. Or, rather, one just a few feet off the Earth. That was Julius Erving last week, launching himself from various points on courts in Denver and New York, soaring and scoring, passing, rebounding, blocking and stealing—all in the undeserved obscurity of the ABA championship finals. By Saturday night Erving and his underdog New York Nets had Denver down three games to one, which is what can happen when humans go five-on-one with a helicopter.
The games were not nationally televised, but they should have been. Dr. J's heroics merited more than just local exposure. In the first four games he scored 158 points, pulled down 51 rebounds, had 22 assists, blocked seven shots and had eight steals. Most of them came with the Identified Flying Object's feet well off the ground, his body twisting and turning. Even the Nuggets felt like applauding."
"I'll Never Play the Same Old Riff" (Sports Illustrated, May 17, 1976)
Erving tells John Papanek, "I can get a rebound and go. I'll give it off or, if I want, I'll go all the way myself. Once I get into the lane it's history. I'm like a jazzman. When it's my turn to solo, I'm not about to play the same old riff."
The Best the Game Offers (Time, May 24, 1982)
Tom Callahan writes, "It used to be said of Bill Russell, 'He improves every player on the floor.' Now it is said of Bird. And it should be said also of Erving, at 32 the other sublime forward in the game. Dr. J concurs with Bird that the pass means more than the shot and only gives the impression that the 'move' means most of all. Bird recalls Robertson's impeccability; Erving reprises Elgin Baylor's flamboyance. But the subtler moves of Dr. J are the ones the players note and appreciate."
Dr. J is Flying Away (Time, December 22, 1986)
Callahan again strikes the perfect notes, opening this great piece with the following lines: "On the playground, where the move counts as much as the basket, 'winners' out' is the rule. Score the hoop, keep the ball. Win the game, maintain the court. Hold out until dark if you can, or at least until twilight. Julius ("Dr. J") Erving, the most watchable basketball player of the past 16 years, has begun to say goodbye to cities: Portland, Seattle, Oakland, Phoenix. At final stops along the Philadelphia 76ers' way, home teams have been introducing their own players first in order to build a crescendo for Dr. J, the National Basketball Association star who plays for everyone."
Dr. J and Pistol Pete on the Same Team (Basketball Digest, October 2004; reprinted at 20 Second Timeout, November 9, 2006)
I have had the good fortune to interview numerous Hall of Famers, members of the 50 Greatest Players List and other legends but the opportunity to talk hoops with Erving will always be at the top of the list for me--and one of the many highlights of that conversation was when Erving told me the story of the brief time that he was Pete Maravich's teammate with the Atlanta Hawks. I knew the bare bones story before talking with Erving but when I asked him about it he delivered the heart and soul, starting with the earnest statement, "It really was one of the joys of my life to play with Pete, to be in training camp with him."
posted by David Friedman @ 4:30 AM