Julius Erving was the first basketball player more popular by his nickname – Dr. J – than by his real name. And that was for a reason.
Dr. J revolutionized the way basketball was perceived by the general public. There definitely were high-fliers in Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain before his time as a professional.
But Erving elevated the stylistic component of the game by bringing a few blacktop and playground moves to the mainstream. In addition, his ability to soar in the air and dunk effortlessly or make mind-bending layups showcased his hang time.
As a result, Dr. J was the foremost wing player of the pre-Michael Jordan era in the NBA. There were more potent scorers, better facilitators and better defenders around. But no one really was a complete package like him – a player who could pull off any play at any time.
Julius Erving gives amazingly defiant answer when asked who bust his a** by Darius Miles
The Players’ Tribune team has been on a roll with the guests they’ve invited to the Knuckleheads podcasts this season. We’ve had interviews one after the other with All-Star, All-NBA, Hall of Fame guests on the show.
Darius and Quentin were able to get one of the GOATs in Oscar Robertson on the show just a couple of weeks back. They outdid themselves once again by inviting the original basketball superstar on the wing in Julius Erving this week.
And as is tradition, D-Miles started the podcast off with his trademark ‘Who was the first person to bust you?’ question. Dr. J, however, had an amazingly pith answer ready:
“I’m waiting! I’m really still waiting!”
“But you know what, Ron Harper did sneak a dunk in on me, because I thought I was a shot-blocker. That was my last year and his first year in the league. So it took a long time!”
“I do remember Buck Williams hitting me with an elbow in my chest and I lost my breath. And I never was able to get back. He was kind of big anyway, pretty strong, 6’10”.”
“But you know, going back to the ABA thing, there were two guys. Warren Jabali and Jumping Joe Caldwell – Pogo Joe, they called him Pogo Joe. So I think I averaged like 28 against the rest of the league. But those two guys, I think I averaged like 24.”
“So they weren’t really busting me, but a 4-point difference in scoring is worthy of note.”