Julius Winfield Erving II (born February 22, 1950) is commonly known by the nickname Dr. J….who is an American retired basketball player that helped popularize a modern style of play that emphasizes leaping and playing above the rim. Erving helped legitimize the American Basketball Association (ABA)….and was the best-known player in that league when it merged with the National Basketball Association (NBA) after the 1975–76 season.
Dr. J won three championships….four Most Valuable Player Awards….and three scoring titles with the ABA’s Virginia Squires and New York Nets (now the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets)….along with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76’ers. He is the eighth-highest scorer in ABA/NBA history with 30,026 points (NBA and ABA combined).
He was well known for slam dunking from the free throw line in slam dunk contests….and was the only player voted Most Valuable Player in both the ABA and the NBA. Erving was inducted in 1993 into the Basketball Hall of Fame….and was also named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team. In 1994, Erving was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the 40 most important athletes of all time. In 2004, he was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame.
Many consider him one of the most talented players in the history of the NBA….as he is widely regarded as one of the game’s best “dunk artists” the game has ever seen….for while players like Connie Hawkins, “Jumping” Johnny Green, Elgin Baylor, Jim Pollard and Gus Johnson performed spectacular dunks before Dr. J’s time….Erving brought the practice into the mainstream….with his signature dunk was the “slam dunk”….which has since been incorporated into the vernacular and basic skill set of the game in the same manner as the “crossover dribble” and the “no look pass”.
Before Erving, dunking was a practice most commonly used by the big men….who were usually standing close to the hoop to show their brutal strength which was seen as style over substance….and even unsportsmanlike, by many purists of the game. However, the way Erving utilized the dunk more as a high-percentage shot made at the end of maneuvers generally starting well away from the basket and not necessarily a “show of force” helped to make the shot an acceptable strategy…..especially when trying to avoid a blocked shot.
Although the slam dunk is still widely used as a show of power…..as a method of intimidation and a way to fire up a team (and spectators)….Erving demonstrated that there can be great artistry and almost balletic style to slamming the ball into the hoop….especially after a launch several feet from that target.
Simply put, Julius “Dr. J” Erving is an absolute legend of the game of basketball that brought a certain style of excitement to the game that any fan who ever were fortunate to see him play…..were treated to one of the rarest talents to ever grace the court….and we at ImaSportsphile are “tickled pink” to have each and every piece of footage on the basketball legend known as Dr. J…..especially when Chris Berman is honoring his career.