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Julius Erving was born February 22, 1950 in Roosevelt, New York. As a young boy he grew up watching the Knickerbockers, and the Celtics, and instantly became a fan of both teams. Little did he know he’d become an enemy to both of those franchises.

In High School Erving was among the best players on the court, it was at this time he earned the nick name “The Doctor”. Erving was awarded a scholarship to the University of Massachusetts in 1968. While there he averaged 26 points and 20 boards for a career, and became one of only six players ever to accomplish this feat. Despite his stellar numbers Erving didn’t get much national attention, this could be because he failed to lead Umass to the national title game even once.

Erving left Umass in 1971 and began playing basketball professionally. Erving was drafted by the Virginia Squires of the ABA, the ABA or American Basketball Association was a league that was trying to compete with the NBA but in smaller market cities.

Erving quickly made his impact in the ABA felt. He averaged over 27 points a game, became an all-star, and was second in MVP voting behind Artis Gilmore. Erving lead the Squires to the ABA Eastern Finals where they lost to the New York Nets.

In 1972 Erving was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA. This could have created one of the greatest teams of all time because the Bucks already had Oscar Robertson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabber on their roster, but Erving never joined the Bucks because was unhappy being the third star on a team. Later in 1972 he tried playing for the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA, but the Squires sued and prevented him from playing in the NBA. Erving was forced to play with the Squires, and he put up huge numbers in doing so, including a career best 32 points per game. Also this was the year when Erving adopted his trademarked Afro.

In 1973 Erving was traded to the New York Nets. Erving would become the leagues star player during this time, he would lead the Nets to the ABA finals where they beat the Utah Stars to win the ABA title. Erving would lead the Nets back to the ABA finals two years later where they beat the Denver Nuggets to win their second ABA title.


During the off-season of 1976 the ABA was going bankrupt, the league had already lost powerhouse franchises in Utah, and Kentucky. That summer the Nets along with the Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers would merge with the NBA. Later that year Erving had a dispute with the Nets management and was sold to the Philadelphia 76ers. This move is considered by many to be among the worst moves ever made in Basketball.

In his first season in the NBA Erving enjoyed the same success in the NBA that he had found in the ABA. His first year he lead the Sixers to the NBA finals against the Bill Walton lead Portland Trailblazers. Erving lead the Sixers to an early 2-0 series lead before the Blazers won 4 straight and the 1977 NBA title. During the off-season Erving became one of the first ever NBA players to endorse a product, and the first player to have a shoe named after him.

For the next 3 seasons Erving had to endure playing on a team with sub-par teammates who just weren’t experienced enough. The Sixers where eliminated twice by the Larry Bird lead Celtics. The match up between Bird and Erving became a fan favorite, as it rekindled the old Sixers-Celtics rivalry of years past. The rivalry even spawned one of the first basketball based video games“Julius Erving-Larry Bird One-on-One”

In 1980 Erving finally beat Bird and the Sixers went on to face the Los Angeles Lakers. The series was knotted at 2 games a piece, when Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar injured his leg and had to leave the game. The Lakers won the game but without Jabbar it looked like Erving could win his first NBA title. But the Lakers had drafted their own Earving, and he would be Magic. Magic Johnson would lead the Lakers to a game 6 victory, and it looked as if time had run out on Erving to win a NBA title.

Erving would once again put up big numbers in 1981, and 82. Erving would be named MVP in 1981, and lead the Sixers to the finals again in 1982, where they once again lost to Magic and the Lakers. 1983 would change everything, the Sixers acquire scoring machine Moses Malone, and behind Malone the Sixers charged their way into the NBA and knocked off the Lakers in 4 games.

In the 1984 Draft the Sixers would add Charles Barkley to their team, but even with the addition of Barkley they never would make it to the finals again. Also in 1984 Erving would compete in the inaugural NBA Slam Dunk contest, where he placed second to Cleveland Larry Nance. Erving’s numbers began to decline and in 1986 he announced his retirement.

At the end of his basketball career Erving was one of a handful of players to have his number retired with two teams. The New Jersey Nets retired his #32, and the Sixers his #6. He would also rank 5th on the NBA’s all time scorer list, behind Jabber, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlin, and Michael Jordan. In 1993 Erving would be inducted into the Basketball hall-of-fame.

Written By:
Bran C. Faurschou

 
Season  GP GS FG FGA    FG% FT  FTA  FT%  Reb  Avg   Pts Avg 
1969-70 25 25 238 468  .509 167 230 .726  522  20.9  643 25.7 
1970-71 27 27 286 609  .470 155 206 .752  527  19.5  727 26.9 
Career  52 52 524 1077 .487 322 436 .739 1049  20.2 1370 26.3

 


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