Ah… where do you start with Julius “Dr. J.” Erving? You start right at the top of the list, that’s where you start!
Dr. J. was one of those iconic players that us kids growing up in the early Seventies would just marvel at whenever we got a chance to catch a glimpse of him on TV. Back then, Dr. J. was playing for the American Basketball Association (ABA), and until there was serious talk about a possible ABA / NBA merger, for the most part he was a mythical and mystical basketball marvel doing fabulous things in the ABA that many of the guys in the NBA only dreamed of.
Not only do I put Dr. J. up there as one of my all-time favorite players, but I also list him as one of the true greats of the game. Someone who carried the heavy mantle of representing the ABA and all their glorious players and trying to elevate that league to a place where up until then the NBA claimed sole supremacy.
I remember seeing Dr. J. in person for the first time as a rookie in 1980 when the team I was with at the time, the Seattle SuperSonics, was on a road trip, and we pulled into the hotel in Milwaukee to prepare for our game against the Bucks a night or two later. Dr. J. and his team, the Philadelphia 76ers, werechecking out of the hotel just as we were checking in. I remember being in almost a state of playful giddiness along with a couple of other rookies on the team at the time, Vinnie Johnson and James Bailey, as we were all excited to see Dr. J. and the Philadelphia 76ers… up close and in person!
Dr. J. seems to be in a class all by himself and he had a way of standing out in every crowd that he was in – whether he was on the court or walking through a hotel lobby. He was one of the few guys in the league that I really wanted to pattern my demeanor and personality after in his very professional approach to the game, on and off the court.
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