Giannis and his Bucks have given us some all-time highlight-reel plays in these NBA Finals. But it’s next to impossible to top this Julius Erving layup.
Basketball reaches arguably its highest level through the course of its year by the time we reach the NBA Finals. 2 teams reach the most prestigious stage in pro basketball after battling hard in three best-of-7 series.
The best players and the best teams in NBA history have all stamped their own unique mark on the Finals. And yet, as basketball fans, we know that some plays and some moments are more special than others.
Jrue Holiday’s steal and Giannis’ subsequent alley-oop, for example, wasn’t your average NBA Finals highlight. It came with the Bucks looking to hold on for dear life on the defensive end.
At the end of the day, however, it’s the pure quality of the play that helps it stand out among countless memorable moments. And Julius Erving probably set the gold standard for NBA Finals plays with this barely believable 1980 layup.
“We cut off Julius Erving at the baseline, he started walking in the air”: Magic Johnson on Dr. J’s layup
The LA Lakers were back at the NBA Finals stage for the first time since 1973. Led by MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and rookie All-Star Magic Johnson, the Lakeshow were up against Julius Erving’s Philadelphia 76ers.
The Sixers needed a win in Game 4 at home to level the series at 2-2. And they edged out a close win on the night as Darryl Dawkins top-scored with 26 points. Dr. J had 23 for himself, and possibly the greatest play in NBA Finals history.
“Man, he did a move which is the all-time greatest move I’ve seen,” said Magic, when interviewed by NBA TV.
“Magic and I were sitting there, and we were sitting right on the baseline. And when Dr. J left his feet, he didn’t know what he was gonna do,” said Michael Cooper, who was his primary defender.
“When we cut him off baseline, he started walking in the air! Got the ball in one hand, and we were just going ‘He’s got to come down! There’s no way he can stay in the air that long!'”
“Coop (Michael Cooper) and I were stunned, we were like ‘Should we ask him to do it again? We’ve never seen anything like that before, it was crazy!”