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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Julius Erving's 40 Point Games

Last Friday, LeBron James notched the 34th 40 point game of his NBA career. According to ESPN, James ranks sixth on the list for most 40 point games before turning 25 (his 25th birthday is December 30, 2009):

Wilt Chamberlain--67
Michael Jordan--52
Bob McAdoo--47
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar--38
Rick Barry--35

The problem with this list is that it does not include ABA statistics; I have insisted for years that ABA numbers should also count. Barry played his first two seasons for the NBA Warriors before jumping to the ABA for four seasons. He tallied nine 40 point games in the 1968-69 season as a member of the ABA's Oakland Oaks, so Barry actually had 44 40 point games before the age of 25; it is also worth noting that the NBA forced Barry to sit out his option year (1967-68) prior to switching leagues and that an injury limited Barry to just 35 games in 1968-69, so Barry easily could have beaten Jordan's total if he had not missed 120-plus games during that period.

Julius Erving spent his first five professional seasons in the ABA, so the methodology used to compile the above list essentially pretends that the first third of his career never happened. Erving had 39 40 point games in the ABA, including 30 prior to his 25th birthday, one on his 25th birthday (he dropped 51 on February 22, 1975) and eight more after he turned 25. I have never seen a published list of all of Erving's 40 point games; the information necessary to put together such a list is available--though not easy to find--and several years ago I made a complete chart of Erving's 48 regular season and seven playoff 40 point games:

Julius Erving's ABA/NBA 40 Point Games

1971-72 (0-5)
Virginia Squires

Date
Team Opp Total
1/20/72
VIR 115 KEN 118 40
3/4/72
VIR 117 at FLA 124 45
3/12/72
VIR 101 at KEN 104 40
3/26/72
VIR 130 at PIT 131 41
3/28/72
VIR 121 CAR 127 45

Playoffs (1-0)

4/4/72
VIR 118 at FLA 113 53

Erving tied the ABA playoff single game
scoring record, a mark that he still shares
with Roger Brown. Erving also tied Wilt
Chamberlain's record for most points by a
rookie in a playoff game.

1972-73 (9-4) Virginia
Squires

11/5/72
VIR 121 at SD 132 42
11/17/72
VIR 122 KEN 115 45
11/25/72
VIR 122 MEM 108 46
12/7/72
VIR 132 IND 129 41
12/8/72
VIR 124 at NYN 126 41
12/23/72
VIR 112 DAL 107 41
1/16/73
VIR 127 at MEM 122 46
1/31/73
VIR 100 at NYN 94 47
2/8/73
VIR 123 NYN 108 58
2/10/73
VIR 105 KEN 100 44
2/17/73
VIR 105 KEN 112 44
3/9/73
VIR 113 KEN 119 42
3/14/73
VIR 125 at DAL 114 44

Playoffs (1-0)

4/1/73
VIR 109 at KEN 104 41

1973-74 (4-3)
New York Nets

10/10/73
NYN 99 at IND 118 42
11/25/73
NYN 124 IND 126 43
1/27/74
NYN 133 CAR 114 46
2/6/74
NYN 121 at IND 100 40
3/16/74 (OT)
NYN 114 at KEN 112 41
3/17/74
NYN 105 at IND 117 41
3/27/74
NYN 102 DEN 96 43

Playoffs (1-0)

4/30/74
NYN 89 UTA 85 47

Erving's outburst in game one of the Finals
versus top defensive forward Willie Wise
set the tone for New York's 4-1 series win.

1974-75 (5-4)
New York Nets

11/13/74 (2OT)
NYN 129 at KEN 132 44
1/17/75
NYN 108 KEN 93 40
1/24/75
NYN 112 KEN 110 42
2/3/75
NYN 106 at UTA 111 40
2/14/75 (4OT)
NYN 166 SD 176 63
2/22/75
NYN 126 SD 93 51
3/19/75
NYN 119 at IND 110 42
3/23/75
NYN 111 DEN 114 40
3/30/75
NYN 130 SAN 104 40

1975-76 (2-3)
New York Nets

10/31/75 (OT)
NYN 116 STL 120 42
1/10/76 (2OT)
NYN 130 STL 141 49
1/18/76 (OT)
NYN 134 SAN 130 51
2/5/76
NYN 116 SAN 124 44
2/8/76
NYN 110 at IND 104 40

Playoffs (1-2)

4/21/76
NYN 105 at SAN 106 41
5/1/76
NYN 120 at DEN 118 45
5/4/76
NYN 121 at DEN 127 48

Erving scored 40-plus points in each of
the first two games of the Finals en route to
averaging 37.7 ppg as the Nets triumphed
4-2 to claim the ABA's last championship.

1976-77 (1-0)
Philadelphia 76ers

4/9/77
PHI 125 WAS 93 40

Playoffs (0-1)

6/5/77
PHI 107 at POR 109 40

Erving averaged 30.3 ppg in the 76ers'
six game loss to the Blazers in the Finals,
including 40 points in the last game of
the series.

1977-78 (0-1)
Philadelphia 76ers

1/19/78
PHI 109 at CLE 117 43

1979-80 (3-1)
Philadelphia 76ers

10/13/79
PHI 113 HOU 105 44
11/23/79
PHI 113 HOU 102 41
3/12/80
PHI 105 WAS 98 40
3/16/80
PHI 109 at CLE 123 41

1980-81 (1-0)
Philadelphia 76ers

11/1/80 (OT)
PHI 117 BOS 113 45

1982-83 (1-0)
Philadelphia 76ers

12/11/82
PHI 128 DET 111 44

1983-84 (1-0)
Philadelphia 76ers

2/8/84
PHI 118 HOU 107 42

Sources: Various Philadelphia 76ers Media Guides, John Grasso's ABA regular season game by game logs, personal correspondence with John Grasso.

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posted by David Friedman @ 6:36 PM

4 comments

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4 Comments:

At Friday, November 27, 2009 4:19:00 AM, Blogger vednam said...

Thanks for the list, David. This is something I've always been curious about.

I haven't seen the video in a while, but I seem to remember Steve Albert referring to Erving's 41-point performance against the Spurs while he was calling Game 1 of the 1976 Finals. I think Albert implied it was in Game 7 of the Nets-Spurs series. You've got it as Game 6. Albert probably just misspoke.

 
At Friday, November 27, 2009 9:03:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Vednam:

My information regarding that game comes from John Grasso's ABA game logs. Grasso is an extremely reliable source.

Also, you can confirm that this is correct by visiting the SI Vault and looking at the "Roundup of the Week April 19-25" section of the May 3, 1976 issue of Sports Illustrated, which contains this statement: "ABA: The semifinals were marked by last-second game savers. Ex-Net, now-Spur Larry Kenon hit two free throws with three seconds left to give San Antonio a 106-105 win over New York that tied their series at 3-3. George Gervin scored 37 points for the Spurs, while Julius Erving had 41 for the Nets, including 31 in the second half."

 
At Monday, February 15, 2010 3:43:00 AM, Blogger Natasha said...

I was at the game when Julius scored 51 on his birthday. I lived on Long Island and went with my brother and father. I believe that he was something like 19 of 23. He dunked at least 12 times. Every way you could dunk he did it. The players and coaches on both benches were spell bound. By the end of the game the whole arena was in awe. It was the greatest performance I have ever seen and I have seen. We could not believe it.

 
At Monday, February 15, 2010 4:01:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Natasha:

Thank you for sharing that memory. Many people say that if you did not see Dr. J in his ABA days then you did not see the real Dr. J, so you were privileged to see one of the best players of all-time at his absolute peak.

 

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