Happy 60th Birthday, Dr. J!"The respect is so much more important than the popularity."--Julius Erving
Julius Erving turned 60 yesterday; I don't know how he feels about reaching that milestone but just the thought of Dr. J being 60 makes me feel old: I started rooting for him when I was just a little kid and he was several years younger than I am now. I respect and appreciate all basketball eras and all great players but I have said this many times and I will say it again: if I live over 100 years I will never enjoy watching someone play basketball more than I enjoyed watching Dr. J. He will always be my favorite basketball player; that does not necessarily make him the greatest player of all-time, though he should be mentioned more often in that discussion than he generally is now--but that is a debate for another day.
Erving retired from the NBA nearly a quarter century ago but he is still a household name and he is still respected not only for his unique--and highly productive--playing style but also for his dignity, grace and class. I have had the privilege to interview Erving and gather his insights about a wide range of subjects, including briefly being Pistol Pete's teammate and delivering a mind boggling dunk in the 1972 NBA-ABA All-Star Game. Recently, I compiled a complete list of Erving's 40 point games in the ABA and NBA, the first and only such list that I have ever seen or heard about.
I could not decide how to best pay tribute to Erving on his milestone birthday until I found some videos of an old ESPN show that I had never seen before (I did not have cable in the 1980s). I enjoyed watching these videos and I think that you will enjoy them, too:
posted by David Friedman @ 6:27 AM