Julius Erving: Wikis

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Julius Erving
Erving in May 2008
Position(s) Small forward
Jersey #(s) 32, 6
Listed height 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight 210 lb (95 kg)
Born February 22, 1950 (1950-02-22) (age 60)
Roosevelt, New York, USA
Career information
Year(s) 1971–1987
NBA Draft 1972 / Round: 1 / Pick: 12
College Massachusetts
Professional team(s)
Career stats (NBA and ABA)
Points     30,026 (24.2 ppg)
Steals     2,272 (2.0 spg)
Rebounds     10,525 (8.5 rpg)
Stats @ Basketball-Reference.com
Career highlights and awards
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Julius Winfield Erving II (born February 22, 1950), commonly known by the nickname Dr. J, is a retired American basketball player who helped launch a modern style of play that emphasizes leaping and play above the rim.

Erving helped legitimize the now-defunct American Basketball Association (ABA). He was the best known player in the ABA when the ABA-NBA merger joined it with the National Basketball Association (NBA) after the 1976 season.

Erving won three championships, four Most Valuable Player Awards, and three scoring titles while playing with the ABA's Virginia Squires and New York Nets and the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers. He is the fifth-highest scorer in professional basketball history, with 30,026 points (NBA and ABA combined). He is well-known for slam dunking from the free throw line in Slam Dunk Contests.

Erving was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time team and in 1993 was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2004, he was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame. Many consider him among the most spectacular basketballers ever, and one of the best dunkers of all time. His signature dunk was the "slam" dunk, since incorporated into the vernacular and basic skill set of the game, in the same manner as the "cross-over" dribble and the "no look" pass.

Contents

Career

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High school and college

Erving was born and raised in Roosevelt, New York. He played for Roosevelt High School and reportedly received the nickname "Doctor or Dr. J" from a high school friend.[1]

Erving enrolled at the University of Massachusetts in 1968. In two varsity college basketball seasons, he averaged 32.5 points and 20.2 rebounds per game, becoming one of only five players to average more than 20 points and 20 rebounds per game in NCAA Men's Basketball.[2]

At that time, professional basketball was in flux, split between two leagues whose players rapidly switched clubs and leagues. Erving joined the ABA in 1971 as an undrafted free agent with the Squires.

Virginia Squires

Erving quickly established himself as a force and gained a reputation for hard and ruthless dunking. He scored 27.3 points per game as a rookie, was selected to the All-ABA Second Team, made the ABA All-Rookie Team, and finished second to Artis Gilmore for the ABA Rookie of the Year Award. He led the Squires into the Eastern Division Finals, where they lost to the Rick Barry-led New York Nets.

When he became eligible for the NBA draft in 1972, the Milwaukee Bucks picked him in the first round (12th overall). This move would have brought him together with Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Instead, the 6' 7", 210 pound Erving signed a contract with the Atlanta Hawks before the 1972–73 season.[1]

As attorneys tried to reach an agreement among three teams in two leagues, Erving joined Pete Maravich and the Hawks's training camp, as they prepared for the upcoming season. Erving enjoyed his brief time with Atlanta, and he would later duplicate with George Gervin his after-practice playing with Maravich. He played three exhibition games with the Hawks until, because of a legal injunction, he was obliged by a three-judge panel to return to the ABA Squires. The NBA fined Atlanta $25,000 per game for Erving's Hawks appearances because Milwaukee owned his NBA rights.

Back in the ABA, his game flourished, and he achieved a career-best 31.9 points per game in the 1972–1973 season. The following year, the cash-strapped Squires sold him to the New York Nets.

New York Nets

The Squires, like most ABA teams, were on rather shaky financial ground. They were forced to trade Erving to the Nets in 1973—a move which eventually sent the Squires into oblivion. Erving led the Nets to their first ABA title in 1973–74, defeating the Utah Stars. Erving established himself as the most important player in the ABA. His spectacular play established the Nets as, finally, one of the better teams in the ABA, and brought fans and credibility to the league.

1976 finally saw the ABA-NBA merger. The Nets and Nuggets actually applied for admission to the NBA before the season, in anticipation of the eventual merger that had first been proposed by the two leagues in 1970 but delayed for various reasons including the Oscar Robertson suit. The Erving-led Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets in the swan-song finals of the ABA. In the postseason, Erving averaged 34.7 points and was named Most Valuable Player of the playoffs.

Erving performing a slam dunk in 1981

In his five ABA seasons, Erving won two championships, three MVP trophies, and three scoring titles.

Philadelphia 76ers

The Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs joined the NBA for the 1976–77 season. With Erving and Nate Archibald (acquired in a trade with Kansas City), the Nets were poised to pick up right where they left off.

However, the New York Knicks threw a monkey wrench into the Nets' plans when they demanded that the Nets pay them $4.8 million for "invading" the Knicks' NBA territory. Coming on the heels of the fees the Nets had to pay for joining the NBA, owner Roy Boe reneged on a promise to raise Erving's salary. Erving refused to play under these conditions and held out in training camp. Boe had little choice but to sell Erving's contract to the Philadelphia 76ers for 3 million dollars.

Erving quickly became the leader of his new club and led them to an exciting 50-win season. This team featured other stars like George McGinnis and Doug Collins. The Sixers won the Atlantic Division and were the top drawing team in the NBA. The Sixers defeated the defending champions, the Boston Celtics, to win the Eastern Conference. Erving took them into the NBA Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers of Bill Walton. After the Sixers took a 2–0 lead, however, the Blazers defeated them with four straight victories.

However, Dr.J enjoyed success off the court, becoming one of the first basketball players to endorse many products and to have a shoe marketed under his name. It was at this time that he appeared in television commercials urging young fans asking for his autograph in an airport to refer to him henceforth as "Dr. Chapstick." He also starred in the 1979 basketball comedy film, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.

A famous TV commercial for Sixers season tickets during the 1977–78 off-season summed up Erving's desire to win an NBA Title. In the commercial, Erving was in the Sixers locker room and he said to fans, "We owe you one" while he held up his index finger. It took a few years for the Sixers franchise to build around Erving. Eventually coach Billy Cunningham and top-level players like Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, and Bobby Jones were added to the mix and the franchise was very successful.

In the following years, Erving coped with a team that was not yet playing at his level. The Sixers were eliminated twice in the Eastern Conference Finals. In 1979, Larry Bird entered the league, reviving the Boston Celtics and the storied Celtics-76ers rivalry; these two teams faced each other in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1980, '81, '82, and '85. The Bird vs. Dr. J matchup became arguably the top personal rivalry in the sport (along with Bird vs. Magic Johnson), inspiring the early Electronic Arts video game One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird.

In 1980, the 76ers prevailed over the Celtics to advance to the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. There, Erving executed the legendary Baseline Move, an incredible behind-the-board reverse layup. However, the Lakers won 4–2 with superb play from, among others, Magic Johnson.

1981 and 1982 were the shaky moments in his career, as the Sixers stumbled twice, once against the Celtics and once again against the Lakers. Nevertheless, Erving was named the NBA MVP in 1981. But for the 1982–83 season, the Sixers obtained the missing element to combat their weakness at their center position, Moses Malone. Armed with one of the most formidable and unstoppable center-forward combinations of all time, the Sixers dominated the whole season, causing Malone to make the famous prediction of "fo-fo-fo (four-four-four)," meaning all the Sixers needed to do was win four games in each series. The media misinterpreted[citation needed] the comment and thought he meant the Sixers would sweep the entire playoffs. In fact, the Sixers went four-five-four, losing one game to the Milwaukee Bucks in the conference finals, then sweeping the Lakers to win the NBA title.

Erving maintained his all-star caliber of play into his twilight years, averaging 22.4, 20.0, 18.1, and 16.8 points per game in his final seasons. In 1986, he announced that he would retire after the season, causing every game he played to be sold out with adoring fans.

Career summary

Erving retired in 1987 at the age of 37. What makes Julius so memorable is his unique astounding grace and individualistic expression towards the game. Erving was truly a player that altered the flow and meaning of the game. He did moves with such creativity and hangtime it was awe dropping to watch. "A young Julius Erving was like Thomas Edison, he was always inventing something new every night," Johnny Kerr told ABA historian Terry Pluto. He is also one of the few players in modern basketball to have his number retired by two franchises: the New Jersey Nets (formerly the New York Nets) have retired his No. 32 jersey, and the Philadelphia 76ers his No. 6 jersey.

In his ABA and NBA careers combined, he scored more than 30,000 points. In 1993, Erving was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. When he retired, Erving ranked in the top 5 in scoring (third), field goals made (third), field goals attempted (fifth) and steals (first). On the combined NBA/ABA scoring list, Erving ranked third with 30,026 points. As of 2005, Erving ranks fifth on the list, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.

Post-basketball career

Erving (top left) with other former NBA players visit the New York NBA Store in January 2005

After his basketball career, he became a businessman, obtaining ownership of a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Philadelphia and doing work for TV as an analyst. In 1997, he joined the front office of the Orlando Magic.

He and former NFL running back Joe Washington fielded a NASCAR Busch Grand National Series team in the late 1990s, becoming the first ever NASCAR racing team at any level owned completely by minorities. The team had secure sponsorship from Dr Pepper for most of its existence. Erving, a racing fan himself, stated that his foray into NASCAR was an attempt to raise interest in NASCAR among African-Americans.

He has also served on the Board of Directors of Converse (prior to their 2001 bankruptcy), Darden Restaurants, Inc., Saks Incorporated and The Sports Authority. As of 2009, Erving is the owner of The Celebrity Golf Club International outside of Atlanta.

Orlando Magic star Vince Carter, who was playing for the Toronto Raptors at the time, preferred Erving as the choice for the team's next General Manager, after Glen Grunwald was dismissed in 2004. However, the team owners hired Rob Babcock instead.

He was ranked #10 on SLAM Magazine's Top 75 NBA Players of All Time in 2003.

Erving is the father of professional tennis player Alexandra Stevenson.[3]

NBA statistics

Games – 836; Field Goal % – .507; Rebounds – 5,601; Assists – 3,224; Total Points – 18,364; Points per game [PPG] – 22.0

Memorable feats

Although dunking from the foul line had been done by other players (Jim Pollard and Wilt Chamberlain in the 1950s, for example), Erving introduced the dunk jumping off the foul line to a wide audience, when he demonstrated the feat in the 1976 ABA All-Star Game Dunking Contest. He is revered for his legacy of amazing acrobatic and powerful offensive moves.

The Baseline Move

One of his most memorable plays occurred during the 1980 NBA Finals, when he executed a seemingly impossible finger-roll behind the backboard.[4] He drove past a defender on the right baseline and went up for a layup. Then 7'2" center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar crossed his way, blocking the route to the basket and forcing him outwards. In mid-air, it was apparent that Erving would land behind the backboard. But somehow he managed to reach over and score on a right-handed layup despite the fact that his whole body, including his left shoulder, was already behind the hoop. This move, along with his free-throw line dunk, has become one of the signature events of his career.

Rock The Baby over Michael Cooper

Another of Erving's most memorable plays came in a regular season game against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1983. He deflected a pass for a steal, charged down the court's left side, with one defender to beat (Laker's top defensive player Michael Cooper). As he came inside of the 3-point line, he cupped the ball into his wrist and forearm, rocking the ball back and forth before taking off, which sports announcer Chick Hearn best described , as a "Rock The Baby" slam dunk, slung the ball around behind his head and dunked over Cooper. This dunk is generally regarded as one of the greatest dunks of all time.

Quotations

  • "As a basketball player, Julius was the first to actually take the torch and become the spokesman for the NBA. He understood what his role was and how important it was for him to conduct himself as a representative of the league. Julius was the first player I ever remember who transcended sports and was known by one name, Doctor". – his coach, Billy Cunningham.
  • "I saw that basketball could be my way out and I worked hard to make sure it was."
  • "Respect is a lot more important, and a lot greater, than popularity."
  • "Here I was, trying to win a championship, and my mouth just dropped open. He actually did that! I thought, 'What should we do? Should we take the ball out, or should we give him the ball back and ask him to do it again?' It's still the greatest move I've ever seen in a basketball game, the all-time greatest." – Magic Johnson on the Baseline Move.
  • "We heard about Julius Erving and asked for a tape of him. We got this grainy black-and white film of the UMAss-North Carolina game in the NIT. The quality was so bad that you could hardly tell what was going on, but we saw enough of Julius to sign him after his Junior year. Since we'd never seen him live before he wore a (Virginia) squires uniform, we thought he'd be able to help us on the boards and we hoped he'd be able to score some. We had no idea what he's become."-Johnny "Red" Kerr
  • "....If you look at greatness there is one quality all these players have.They're always striving for perfection even though they know they'll never achive that. Julius Erving was no different."-Billy Cunningham

Influences

In popular culture

Erving was the subject of a video game, One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird, which was released originally for the Apple II and subsequently for several other systems. He is also popular among musicians; Erving was idolized by American rapper Dr. Dre, who even rapped using the alias "Dr. J" for a short time. American rappers Gucci Mane & Yo Gotti created the song "Julius" from the mixtape "Deeper Than Trap" in his honor, and You Be Illin' by Run-D.M.C. mentions a clutch shot by Erving. In addition to rap, legendary smooth jazz musician Grover Washington, Jr., a fan of the 76ers, created the song "Let It Flow (For Dr. J)", from the album Winelight, in honor of Erving.

Family

Erving was married to Turquoise Erving from 1972 until 2003. Together, they had four children. Their son, Cory, drowned after driving his vehicle into a pond in 2000.[6]

In 1979, Erving began an adulterous affair with sportswriter Samantha Stevenson, resulting in the 1980 birth of American tennis player Alexandra Stevenson. Although Erving's fatherhood of Alexandra Stevenson was known privately to the families involved, it did not become public knowledge until Stevenson reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 1999, the first year she qualified to play in the tournament. Erving had provided financial support for Stevenson over the years, but beyond that, had not been a part of her life. The public disclosure of their relationship did not initially lead to contact between father and daughter. However, in 2008, Stevenson contacted him, and they at last did initiate a further relationship with one another.[7]

In 2003, Erving fathered a second child outside of his marriage, this time with a woman named Dorýs Madden. Julius and Turquoise Erving were subsequently divorced. Julius Erving continued his relationship with Madden, with the couple having two more children together.[7] In 2008, Erving and Madden were married.[8]

References

External links


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