Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the "No Way Even for Dr. J Reverse Layup"Today is the 30th anniversary of one of the most famous moves in NBA history, Julius Erving's spectacular reverse layup in game four of the 1980 NBA Finals that Basketball Digest dubbed "The no way even for Dr. J reverse layup." ESPN has been showing replays of this move as part of a discussion about the most "iconic" moments in various sports. In case you somehow have never seen this move--or if you just want to savor it once again--check this out:
Here is what I wrote about Erving's baseline move in my article about the last night at the Spectrum:
"There is one significant moment that I think about, Sixers versus the Lakers," Erving said. "On this particular play, I ended up taking the baseline, drove it hard, one dribble, maybe two dribbles. I got some pretty good momentum, so I took off, elevated, found myself soaring along the baseline and I just waited as long as I could until I got to the other side and then I kind of turned back this way and put a little reverse spin on the ball." Of course, even the eloquent Erving does not have the words to do justice to this move (a move that ABA observers swear would not even crack the top ten of the moves that he did as a young player in that league). In order to appreciate this reverse layup, you have to look at it in freeze frame and pause at the moment when Doc is in full flight: it looks as though he is literally walking on air and he is holding the ball in his oversized right hand, which is extended well over the out of bounds line. I once heard Doc say that when he jumped he had first planned to dunk, but then he saw Kareem Abdul-Jabbar come over so he brought the ball down (that is when he was holding it over the end line) in order to pass it but no one cut to the hoop behind Kareem so Erving simply kept flying and shot a reverse. He did all of that moving (and thinking) while suspended in mid-air! Younger people may not understand or believe it, but if Doc were playing today SportsCenter would probably be named after him. There is a very good reason that Al Bianchi (Doc's first pro coach) says that he never had bench players pay better attention to the game during his coaching career than when he coached Erving: no one wanted to miss Doc's next house call.
Since SportsCenter was just in its infancy when Erving made this move it is really cool to see it replayed in full rotation on the show 30 years later. Erving's greatness has truly stood the test of time and has been an inspiration to several generations of fans--and NBA players.
posted by David Friedman @ 1:25 PM