When Julius Erving grew up in New York the dunk was outlawed in college basketball. He dunked a ton in pickup ball though and over the years learned how to leverage his extraordinary athleticism into slams that made people lose their minds.
Not in college though. When he was At UMass, where Rick Pitino was a freshman during Erving’s final year, the dunk was still outlawed, something the NCAA may have done to limit Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s dominance while he was at UCLA (it was allowed again in 1976).
When he hit the ABA and could dunk again, Dr. J said he kind of ran wild for awhile, dunking everything possible.
There were rumors of his brilliance but in the early 1970s there was no ESPN, barely any cable and generally only one NBA game a week on Sunday. So video was pretty rare.
When the ABA-NBA merger hit, expectations were sky high. Erving was embroiled, for the second time in his career, in a contract dispute which was resolved by trading him to the Philadelphia 76ers and it was as a Sixer that most fans came to know and remember him.
Here are some of his contemporaries and teammates talking about the brilliance of his game and his lasting impact. He was a spectacular talent.
By the way the first 2:30 or so of this video is a commercial so we skipped that in the embedded link below.