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Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Rick Barry and Julius Erving Top the Nets' 40 Point Game List

Kyrie Irving scored 40 points last night as his Brooklyn Nets defeated the New York Knicks 114-112 despite Kevin Durant not playing at all and despite James Harden playing just four minutes before exiting the game due to his recurring hamstring issues. Irving has tallied seven 40 point games in less than two full seasons with the Nets, prompting ESPN to post a graphic incorrectly stating that Irving already ranks third in Nets history for regular season 40 point games, supposedly trailing only Vince Carter (17) and John Williamson (eight). The truth is that Rick Barry is the Nets' all-time leader (28), including a franchise record 16 such games during the 1971-72 season. Barry also had five playoff 40 point games as a Net--and he accomplished all of that in just two seasons with the team!

Julius Erving had 21 regular season 40 point games as a Net from 1974-76, and he also had four playoff 40 point games as a Net while leading the team to ABA titles in 1974 and 1976. Erving had back to back 40 point games (45 and 48 to be exact) in the first two games of the 1976 ABA Finals en route to averaging 37.7 ppg during that series while also leading both teams in rebounding (14.2 rpg), assists (6.0 apg), steals (3.0 spg) and blocked shots (2.2 bpg). 

The NBA and ESPN ignore Barry and Erving when discussing the Nets because Barry and Erving played for the Nets in the ABA, prior to the 1976 ABA-NBA merger--but no matter how much the NBA and its media partners/co-conspirators try to pretend that those games never happened and that those statistics do not exist, the reality is that those games happened and those statistics are every bit as real as Joe Namath's record-setting 4007 yard passing season in 1967, which the NFL rightfully acknowledges even though it happened while Namath's New York Jets played in the AFL prior to the NFL-AFL merger.

I saw a video clip on YouTube recently that superimposed Wilt Chamberlain's one-legged fadeaway over Dirk Nowitzki's one-legged fadeaway:

The clip included footage of numerous Chamberlain fadeaways, the point being that Nowitzki did not invent or perfect this shot. While the footage played, Julius Erving spoke a voiceover and he described how--presumably when he worked at NBC as a commentator in the 1990s--the league instructed NBC to not show highlights from prior to 1992. Erving declared, "People are going to watch basketball and a generation of followers are going to be affected by this. Why wouldn't they let them know about what happened prior to 1992?" I have heard Erving state in other interviews that he felt like he was placed in a no-win situation regarding basketball history during his time at NBC: if he said nothing, the league and the network would just rewrite history, but if he spoke up he felt that it would be perceived as self-serving because he was part of the history that was being wiped out, particularly in terms of the ABA statistics. I think that Erving is too nice and too deferential, and that he should have loudly complained every time the NBA and NBC pulled these shenanigans until he either shamed them into behaving properly or they got rid of him, but I know that is not his personality--so I will complain loudly on his behalf, and on behalf of the preservation of pro basketball history. They can't fire me or silence me because they never hired me and they have no control over what I write or say!

The NBA is so overly zealous about promoting what is happening this very instant that it long ago lost sight of the value and importance of remembering and celebrating its history (and the league barely acknowledges ABA history at all). This is disgraceful, and this deliberate misrepresentation of history goes hand in hand with the shameful way that the NBA treated the "pre-65ers" for decades and the shameful way that the league is biding its time until the remaining ABA veterans die off without receiving full pension benefits. The league could go into its proverbial petty cash drawer and easily take care of the ABA veterans--who should be receiving full pensions based on their years of service prior to the ABA-NBA merger--but the league just keeps dragging its feet as more and more retired players get ill and pass away. 

The best thing about the convergence of Durant, Irving, and Harden in Brooklyn is that every time one of those guys supposedly sets a Nets record that is not really a Nets record it will provide me with a great opportunity to remind basketball fans of the history that the NBA and its media partners never talk about.

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posted by David Friedman @ 2:16 AM



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