Dr. J, the Rise of a Basketball Legend

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“Dr. J” Grows from Boy to Man

Tony Roof

HST 325
Professor Butterfield
April 17, 2012
There have been many famous athletes in our time but there are some athletes that stand out in their sport above almost all others. There is an elite group at the top of every league that either played and dominated or are still playing and dominating. Well in the game of basketball everybody knows about Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and the one and only Doctor that changed the game of basketball for the better, Julius “Dr. J” Erving. Erving was one of the best to play the game and he was one of the few to do so in multiple leagues. I feel that the transformation for Erving from the American Basketball Association (ABA) to the National Basketball Association (NBA) changed the game of basketball for the better but it also changed the skill and fame that came Erving’s way. Julius Winfield Erving II was born on February 22, 1950 in Roosevelt, New York. He went on to be a great fundamental player in high school at Roosevelt High School, and then an outstanding player at the University of Massachusetts where he averaged 26.3 points per game and 20.2 rebounds per game over two varsity seasons. After Erving left college in 1971 he was unsure of what was about to happen with his basketball career but he pushed on to try and achieve the dream of any athlete, make it to the pro’s. The next big step for Erving was the ABA. At such a young age Erving was looking forward to a young and promising career, but I don’t think he could have imagined a career this impressive in a million years. Erving signed as an undergraduate free agent with the ABA’s Virginia Squires. The game of professional basketball was extremely unstable in 1971-72 when Erving joined. The ABA and NBA had already begun talks of a merger, which made players jump from league to league and put franchises at unrest. Erving chose the ABA and joined with the Squires who already had the scoring champion Charlie Scott on there team. That didn’t hold Erving back and he immediately contributed to the teams success. Erving’s first year in the league was a real success story for him, he averaged 27.3 points per game, was chosen to All-ABA Second Team, made the ABA All Rookie Team and finished second in the ABA Rookie of the Year Award. After his rookie season his college class graduation had rolled around and he was selected in the 1972 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 12th pick overall. Erving then attempted to sign a deal with the Atlanta Hawks but got caught up in some injunctions and was forced back to the ABA just four games into the season. The man made it known that he was going to be one of the best that year when he decided to lead the league in scoring pouring in a career-high 31.9 points per contest. The ABA at this time was much more of a fast paced league compared to the NBA where it was a slow it down post it up type of basketball game. The quickness and the athletic ability was sitting in the ABA while the NBA made its money on fundamentals and knowledge. But the fast paced, exciting, innovating way Erving played earned him a spot on the All-ABA First Team for four straight years. This was a feat not accomplished by many but no doubt Erving was one of the best after tearing through four years of solid basketball. Erving was obviously a star and he was realizing he had a chance to be one of the best but not many people around him knew he could be one of the best because he was stuck on a low profile team in Virginia. The ABA is a different ball game than some of the ones being played in the NBA. But his lucky break was about to strike, because at this point in his career Erving is playing great basketball and the Squires decided to see if they could make a deal with somebody that they could really benefit from because their seasons were not ending in championships. The lack of fame and notification for Erving is something that I feel...
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