Rewriting History: Julius Erving's Dunk Over Michael Cooper, According to Inside Stuff MagazineI was going through my archive of old basketball magazines when I came across the May 2005 issue of Inside Stuff. Page 18 featured a cool frame by frame photo spread of Julius Erving's famous dunk over Michael Cooper:
My favorite part of the play is when Cooper at first looks like he is going to try to block Erving's shot but then Cooper not only lowers his arm but covers his head!
There are two problems with the Inside Stuff feature about this play: one is the bold headline reading "Julius Erving: 1983 NBA Finals, Philadelphia 76ers vs. Los Angeles Lakers." The dunk actually took place in a January 5, 1983 regular season game that the Sixers won, 122-120. Erving's steal and slam put the Sixers up by four points with 1:27 remaining, so it was not only a spectacular highlight but it was also a key sequence in a matchup between the teams that met in the 1982 Finals and would square off again in the 1983 Finals. The second problem is the note in small print that crawls up the side of the page stating "Dr. J is the 76ers all-time leader in blocked shots with 1942." Erving blocked 1941 shots in the 15 seasons of his career during which the ABA and NBA officially recorded statistics in that category (no such numbers were tracked during his rookie campaign), including 1293 in the 11 seasons that he played for the 76ers.
It should not surprise anyone that Inside Stuff was edited by Ming Wong, whose handiwork I have previously discussed here. Apparently, the way to advance in this business is to not know the history of the sport and to produce sloppy work; I guess I should have figured that out early in my career when I wrote for Basketball Digest, a magazine that has since folded: I would submit articles that needed absolutely no editing either in terms of writing style or factual information--something that is a lot rarer in this field than you may suspect--but when I received the issue in the mail I would often find to my dismay that some fool had "corrected" my article by making my prose clumsier and including inaccurate statistics and photo captions. The nice thing about using a blogging platform is that I have 100% control over my content; I am not perfect by any means but at least a mistake posted here under my name is truly my own and I can correct it in an instant when either I or an eagle-eyed reader sees it. I must also add that it is great to work with editors like Sam Amico of ProBasketballNews.com and Tariq Ali of CavsNews.com, both of whom are a lot better at their craft than some people in this field who are much more well known.
posted by David Friedman @ 1:40 AM