Erving, Julius ("Dr. J")
Erving, Julius ("Dr. J")(1950- ), African American professional basketball player popularly known as "Dr. J," innovator of the slam-dunk, and one of the most electrifying players in basketball history. Julius Winfield Erving Jr. was born in East Meadow, New York. He grew up playing basketball on New York City playgrounds and then for Roosevelt High School. He recalled, "My first [slam] dunk was at the Prospect Elementary School, where they had eight-foot baskets and 13-foot ceilings. By the time I was in ninth grade, I was dunking the regular baskets." A 6-foot 6-inch, 200-pound forward, he attended the University of Massachusetts. During his sophomore and junior years (1969-1971), Erving led his team in scoring in 46 of 52 varsity games. In 1971 Erving left school to join the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association (ABA). He was named rookie of the year for the 1971-72 season and led the Squires to the ABA playoffs in 1973. Late in 1973 he was traded to another ABA team, the New York Nets. During his three seasons with the Nets (1973-1976), Erving earned the ABA's most valuable player (MVP) award three times and helped his team capture the 1974 and 1976 ABA championships. In five ABA seasons, Erving averaged 29 points and 12 rebounds per game, and made the ABA All-Star team each year After the 1976 season, Erving left the ABA to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). From 1976 until his retirement in 1987, he played for the Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 22 points and 7 rebounds per game. In addition to making the NBA All-Star team for 11 consecutive years, Erving was declared the NBA's most valuable player in 1981 and helped the 76ers triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers for the 1983 NBA title. As a player, Erving became known for his jumping ability, his athletic moves with the ball, and his soaring dunk shots. In 1976, during the ABA All-Star Game, he astounded the basketball world with a dunk from the free throw line. Another one of Erving's legendary shots was his suspenseful windmill reverse lay-up in a 1983 NBA Finals game. With 30,026 points, Erving ranks third behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time ABA/NBA scoring list. Since his retirement, Erving has been engaged in child-centered civic activities, corporate business, and sports broadcasting. In 1993 he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.