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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy 62nd Birthday, Julius Erving!

Julius Erving, the legendary and incomparable Dr. J, turns 62 years old today. Casual fans may remember him most for his spectacular dunks and smooth moves but it should never be forgotten that he was a highly productive player, a champion in two professional leagues. Erving is one of the most prolific and consistent scorers in NBA Finals history and he was even more dominant during his two ABA Finals appearances (contrast that with LeBron James, who has been the best regular season player in the NBA since 2009 but has scored 25 points or less in each of his 10 NBA Finals games--including four games with fewer than 20 points--despite posting a career regular season scoring average of 27.7 ppg). Erving scored at least 1000 points in each of his 16 professional seasons and he was the first athlete in North American professional team sports history whose teams qualified for the playoffs for 16 straight seasons (Karl Malone and John Stockton both surpassed that mark, with each player making 19 straight playoff appearances). Erving was just the third player in professional basketball history to surpass the 30,000 point barrier; five players have accomplished that feat now, but Erving and Michael Jordan remain the only "midsize" players on that exclusive list. Erving is one of just eight members of the exclusive 25,000/5000/5000 Club.

Here are some photos of Erving from various stages of his career, courtesy of a Sports Illustrated photo gallery:

Julius Erving skying for a rebound at UMASS.

Erving looking for a cutter versus the Denver Nuggets. Erving led both teams in scoring (37.7 ppg), rebounding (14.2 rpg), assists (6.0 apg), steals (3.0 spg) and blocked shots (2.2 bpg) as his New York Nets defeated the Nuggets in six games to claim the 1976 ABA title in the league's final season.

Erving makes his debut as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. Colonel Steve Austin was a fictional "Six Million Dollar Man" in the mid-1970s but Erving was the real Six Million Dollar Man; after the 1976 ABA-NBA merger, the cash-strapped Nets sold Erving to the 76ers in a $6 million deal, with roughly half of that sum being paid to the Nets and the remainder being paid to Erving over the next six years, a huge contract for that era.

Erving sports his three championship rings (1974 New York ABA, 1976 New York ABA, 1983 Philadelphia NBA). He later sold those rings and other memorabilia from his career in a record-setting $3.5 million auction.

Passing the torch: a young Michael Jordan standing alongside Julius Erving.


Further Reading:

Happy 60th Birthday, Dr. J!

Rewriting History: Julius Erving's Dunk Over Michael Cooper, According to Inside Stuff Magazine

Great Julius Erving Stories

Julius Erving on the Art of Knowing When to Dunk--And When Not to Dunk

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posted by David Friedman @ 3:59 PM



At Friday, February 24, 2012 1:26:00 PM, Anonymous Greg said...

Those 76ers Liberty Bell warmups were just plain sweet. And Harvey Catching's red Converse Pro Leather shoes cannot be overlooked. I wonder if those were suede?


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