Julius Erving made his NBA debut today in 1976. The Hall of Fame forward, known by his nickname Dr. J, made slam dunk an athletic artistic event. An artistry where you could almost hear the jazz playing in Doc’s mind as he glided towards the basket from the foul line.
It was the nation’s bicentennial, and Julius Erving bringing his legendary talent to the NBA scene was exactly what the NBA needed to bolster a sleepy Philadelphia market.
In 1976, four ABA teams became NBA franchises as the ABA retreated: the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York Nets and San Antonio Spurs. Julius Erving’s rights belonged to the Nets, he was sold to the Philadelphia 76ers, and as they say, the rest is history.
Julius Erving and the bicentennial
- The Apple Computer company is created.
- Bicentennial of the United States.
- Nadia Comaneci has the first perfect score in gymnastics.
- The riots in Soweto mark the beginning of the end of South African apartheid.
- The Concorde reduces the trans-Atlantic flight to 3:30.
- Viking 2 lands on Mars.
- Jimmy Carter elected president.
- First laser printer introduced by IBM – the IBM 3800
The bicentennial here in Philly was a festive time where it was basically July 4th all year round and mostly July 4th itself. Fireworks and sparklers lined the streets and lit up the smiles of celebrating faces, young and old.
America’s 200th birthday was best known in my life as the introduction of Julius Erving into my athletic development, and although I hadn’t seen him play, it was the legend of his game that drove fans to of the Philadelphia 76ers on an emotional journey toward winning Julius Erving an NBA championship with the 76ers.
Cool fashion icon
The practice of NBA superstars of dressing in the training hall instead of dressing in the locker room originates from Julius Erving. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant followed suit, and when the players didn’t emulate Doc dressing in the training hall, what they did was his class in trendy suits. .
Julius Erving’s fashion sense became the standard that the NBA sought for its players. It wasn’t until Allen Iverson entered the NBA that the league tried to keep its players up to that standard, and as controversial as the move is, the NBA has since relaxed its dress code rules.
Save the ABA and the NBA
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are credited with saving the NBA through their fierce competitiveness against each other or in general. A few years before their entry into the NBA, this credit goes to Julius Erving.
I had the honor of interview Julius Erving with the iconic Chuck D as well, and throughout the conversation what I learned was that Julius Erving was the star of the ABA stars, and as he fell back , Julius Erving has become the main draw in the NBA.
The NBA thought he had too much showmanship for mainstream consumption, and asked Julius Erving to cut his signature afro and tone down the one-on-one individual abilities that made Julius Erving a household name. basketball that NBA fans wanted to know.
The Philadelphia 76ers reached the NBA Finals in its first season, but lost to Bill Walton and the Portland Trailblazers in 6 games. Julius Erving averaged 22 points, 9 boards, 4 dimes, 2 steals and a block for the Philadelphia 76ers this regular season and 30 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in the NBA Finals.
In ABA, Julius Erving won 2 championships and 3 MVPs for the New York Nets. In the NBA, Julius Erving was the 1981 MVP and won the title in 1983.
Movements and legacy
The late great Dave Zinkoff was the original man of hip-hop-hype. His classic Julius Erving intro before the matches at the Spectrum gave fans a load that got stronger when Dr J dunked. “From the University of Massachusetts, number 6!” Julius Errrrrrrrrrrrrving!
Julius Erving averaged 26 points and 20 rebounds in two seasons at the University of Massachusetts. He is one of only 6 players in NCAA history to have achieved the 20/20 feat. It was these numbers that made Dr J a legend before he was seen by the nation. Having only played 2 games on national television in his two years at Umass, the ABA has become his canvas and the NBA his art on display.
Two of Julius Erving’s moves, in particular, will be broadcast forever to NBA fans. Both occurred in 1980, and both occurred against the Los Angeles Lakers – a team that would beat the Philadelphia 76ers that year in a classic NBA Finals that made Magic Johnson a superstar. of the NBA during his rookie season.
The finger roll was also a signature move everyone wanted to repeat after saying they were Doc on the asphalt growing up. On the courts of Sharon Hill, Pa., Where Wilt Chamberlain performed at Overbrook High, I tried a finger roll that never looked like Julius Erving’s.
Julius Erving was apparently the only superstar on the planet, and I nicknamed it the 3rd evolution. The evolutions are the slashers and the showmen who take the NBA to a higher athletic dimension. There are 5 evolutions: Elgin Baylor, Connie Hawkins, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
When I asked Julius about the lineage between him and Kobe, his response was even better:
âYes, Connie and Elgin Baylor. I felt like I was following Connie and Elgin. Then you had Michael, a bit of Dominique and Vince Carter. I see where you are going with this. These are the names.
It was very frustrating that Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers couldn’t win an NBA championship until owner Harold Katz and general manager Pat Williams pulled the trigger and acquired the late Hall of Fame big center Moses Malone. . Before Moses, Julius Erving just didn’t have the help he needed to get the 76ers over the top.
Despite everything they had in that 1983 season, this Philadelphia 76ers team is one of the best, if not arguably the best of all time. During the All-Star hiatus that season, the Philadelphia 76ers started an unprecedented 4 in the NBA All-Star Game: Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, Moses Malone and Julius Erving.
They lost a playoff game – a 6-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks – and should be considered one of the best teams of all time in the NBA by consensus.
The NCAA named the Little Forward Award in honor of Julius Erving – a beautiful tribute that will keep Dr. J’s name on the lips of future generations. Julius Erving was the first known superstar to have his own shoe and also one of the first to secure sponsorship deals that many athletes capitalize on today.
How many names do you get before you mention Julius Erving on the NBA’s all-time roster? He is a member of the 50th greatest team in NBA history and was also named to the 75th team.
Who has a better combined ABA and NBA career? Doc and I discussed which points he scored in the ABA should combine with his NBA total. A total of 30,026 which would be the 8th all-time in the NBA. In his five ABA seasons, he averaged 28.7 points, 12.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.
He was given the nickname Dr. J by his high school teammate Leon Saunders – whom Doc called “The Professor”. His afro became Allen Iverson’s cornroll, and Julius Erving’s cultural impact has been seen in the NBA as well as on asphalt courts across the country.
His afro is still visible, and trust me, he’s still rocked because the man they call Dr. J was so cool.
Julius Erving was a whirling dervish of fast-twitch athleticism and basketball jazz.
As athletic as Dr. J was, he was able to do things with basketball that few people could at the time, and whether that was taking off from the foul line in the 1976 ABA slam dunk contest. , or kicking the ball with her oversized hands like Connie Hawkins, basketball fans would catch a show every night with Doc on the floor.
Doc will always be considered one of the best dunkers, whether in dunk competitions or opposing games in NBA history.
His appearance at famed Rucker Park in New York City is legendary, and while Michael Jordan took what Julius Erving did to another level as the internet age hit, what we will know is how the child of Roosevelt High – who was Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan – was a game-changer.
Q. Where does Julius Erving sit all the time in the NBA?
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