Julius Erving Unisex T-Shirt
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HD Highlights of Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving
Julius Winfield Erving II (born February 22, 1950), commonly known by the nickname Dr. J, is an American former professional basketball player. Regarded as one of the most influential basketball players of all time, Erving helped legitimize the American Basketball Association (ABA) and was the best-known player in that league when it merged into the National Basketball Association (NBA) after the 1975–76 season.
Erving 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) and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. During his 16 seasons as a player, none of his teams ever missed the postseason. 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. The basketball slang of being posterized was first coined to describe his moves.
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; he is widely acknowledged as one of the game’s best dunkers. While Connie Hawkins, “Jumping” Johnny Green, Elgin Baylor, Jim Pollard, and Gus Johnson performed spectacular dunks before Erving’s time, Erving brought the practice into the mainstream. 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 “crossover” dribble and the “no look” pass. Before Erving, dunking was a practice most commonly used by the big men (usually standing close to the hoop) to show their brutal strength which was seen as style over substance, 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 tactic, especially in trying to avoid a blocked shot. Although the slam dunk is still widely used as a show of power, 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, particularly after a launch several feet from that target.
Dr. J – The Julius Erving Story – Full Documentary – Spring 1987 Philly Sixers NBA Basketball Legend
Virginia Squires (ABA)
Although NBA rules at the time did not allow teams to draft players who were less than four years removed from high school, the ABA instituted a “hardship” rule that would allow players to leave college early. Erving took advantage of the rule change and left Massachusetts after his junior year to sign a four-year contract worth $500,000 spread over seven years with the 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, led the ABA in offensive rebounds, 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 in seven games. The Nets would eventually go to the finals, losing to the star-studded Indiana Pacers team.
Under NBA rules, he became eligible for the 1972 NBA draft and 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. However, prior to the draft, he signed a contract with the NBA Atlanta Hawks worth more than $1 million with a $250,000 bonus. The signing with the Hawks came after a dispute with the Squires where he demanded a renegotiation of the terms. He discovered that his agent at the time, Steve Arnold, was employed by the Squires and convinced him to sign a below-market contract.
This created a dispute between three teams in two leagues. The Bucks asserted their rights to Erving via the draft, while the Squires went to court to force him to honor his contract. He joined Pete Maravich at the Hawks’ training camp, as they prepared for the upcoming season. He played two exhibition games with the Hawks until NBA Commissioner J. Walter Kennedy ruled that the Bucks owned Erving’s rights via the draft. Kennedy fined the Hawks $25,000 per game in violation of his ruling. Atlanta appealed Kennedy’s decision to the league owners, who also supported the Bucks’ position. While waiting for the owners’ decision, Erving played in one more preseason game, earning the Hawks another fine. Erving enjoyed his brief time with Atlanta, and he would later duplicate with George Gervin his after-practice playing with Maravich.
On October 2, Judge Edward Neaher issued an injunction that prohibited him from playing for any team other than the Squires. The judge then sent the case to arbitration because of an arbitration clause in Erving’s contract with Virginia. He agreed to report to the Squires while his appeal of the injunction made its way through the court.
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 his contract to the New York Nets.
New York Nets (ABA)
The Squires, like most ABA teams, were on rather shaky financial ground. The cash-strapped team sent Erving to the Nets in a complex deal that kept him in the ABA. Erving signed an eight-year deal worth a reported $350,000 per year. The Squires received $750,000, George Carter, and the rights to Kermit Washington for Erving and Willie Sojourner. The Nets also sent $425,000 to the Hawks to reimburse the team for its legal fees, fines and the bonus paid to Erving. Finally, Atlanta would receive draft compensation should a merger of the league result in a common draft.
He went on to lead 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 one of the better teams in the ABA, and brought fans and credibility to the league. The end of the 1975–76 ABA season finally brought the ABA–NBA merger. The Nets and Nuggets had 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 which was delayed for various reasons, including the Oscar Robertson free agency suit (which was not resolved until 1976). The Erving-led Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets in the ABA’s final championship. In the postseason, Erving averaged 34.7 points and was named Most Valuable Player of the playoffs. That season, he finished in the top 10 in the ABA in points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game, steals per game, blocks per game, free throw percentage, free throws made, free throws attempted, three-point field goal percentage and three-point field goals made.
After several teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers lobbied to obtain him, the Nets offered Erving’s contract to the New York Knicks in return for waiving the indemnity, but the Knicks turned it down. This was considered one of the worst decisions in franchise history. The Sixers then decided to offer to buy Erving’s contract for $3 million—in addition to paying roughly the Nets same amount as their expansion fee—and Boe had little choice but to accept the $6 million deal. For all intents and purposes, the Nets traded their franchise player for a berth in the NBA. The Erving deal left the Nets in ruin; they promptly crashed to a 22–60 record, the worst in the league. Years later, Boe regretted having to trade Erving to join the NBA, saying, “The merger agreement killed the Nets as an NBA franchise.”
Erving quickly became the leader of his new club and led them to an exciting 50-win season. However, playing with other stars-such as former ABA standout George McGinnis, future NBA All-Star Lloyd Free, and aggressive Doug Collins allowed him to focus on playing more team-oriented ball. Despite a smaller role, Erving stayed unselfish. The Sixers won the Atlantic Division and were the top drawing team in the NBA. They 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 ran off four straight victories after the famous brawl between Maurice Lucas and Darryl Dawkins which ignited the Blazers’ team.
However, Erving 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. He also starred in the 1979 basketball comedy film, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.
In the following years, Erving coped with a team that was not yet playing at his level. 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.
The Sixers were still 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, 1981, 1982, and 1985. The Bird vs. Erving 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”, a behind-the-board reverse layup. However, the Lakers won 4–2 with superb play from, among others, Magic Johnson.
Erving again was among the league’s best players in the 1980–1981 and 1981–1982 seasons, although more disappointment came as the Sixers stumbled twice in the playoffs: in 1981, the Celtics eliminated them in seven games in the 1981 Eastern Finals after Philadelphia had a 3–1 series lead, but lost both Game 5 and Game 6 by 2 points and the deciding Game 7 by 1; and in 1982, the Sixers managed to beat the defending champion Celtics in seven games in the 1982 Eastern Finals but lost the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. Despite these defeats, Erving was named the NBA MVP in 1981 and was again voted to the 1982 All-NBA First Team.
Finally, 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, prompting Malone to make the famous playoff prediction of “fo-fo-fo (four-four-four)” in anticipation of the 76ers sweeping the three rounds of the playoffs en route to an NBA title. 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. That final season saw opposing teams pay tribute to Erving in the last game Erving would play in their arenas, including in cities such as Boston and Los Angeles, his perennial rivals in the playoffs.
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