Julius Erving's Legend Resonates Nearly 30 Years After He RetiredI have previously noted that Julius Erving has served as a Basketball Hall of Fame presenter nine times, which is very possibly a record (I have yet to find a complete and official list of presenters but based on the available data I do not know of anyone who has been a presenter more often than Erving). Erving retired before most of today's NBA players were even born. The first five years of Erving's career took place in the relative obscurity of the ABA and most of his career happened before ESPN became massively popular. Yet, Erving's legend endures. Why is that?
John Roach of The Times-Picayune offers his take in a thoughtful and personal piece:
Why Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson wanted Dr. J as a presenter
Roach lists some of Erving's numerous on-court accomplishments and feats but concludes that those things alone are not what separates Erving: "Julius Erving at heart was an Everyman who wouldn't let his extraordinary physical talents and unrelenting desire on the court define him. He was an entrepreneur, a mentor, a leader in the Philadelphia community and beyond."
When I was a kid watching Erving play and following his career, I knew that I would never feel the way about another athlete that I do about him. Erving has experienced public and private trials and tribulations during the ensuing decades but my childhood instinct has proven correct: there have been some great athletes who followed Erving and there have been some classy athletes who followed Erving but none of them have ever moved me or impacted my life the way that Erving did. Maybe part of that is because Erving was at the height of his fame during the formative years of my life but, as Roach suggests, I think that there is more to it than that. There is just something captivating, engaging and unique about Erving.
posted by David Friedman @ 12:03 AM