Julius Erving is mostly remembered as an NBA great, but before he was in the NBA, he played in the ABA from 1971 to 1976. During that relatively brief period, he revolutionized basketball, laying the groundwork for much of the modern game.
Erving got to the ABA after playing college ball at UMass, where he was briefly a teammate of Rick Pitino’s (Pitino played on the freshman team in Erving’s final season).
During his college career, dunking was outlawed - it was a move against Lew Alcindor’s dominance (Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar after leaving UCLA). When Erving got to the ABA, he said he basically went crazy dunking because he hadn’t been able to do it in college.
But he was so much more than that.
Look at these highlights and you’ll see a highly athletic young player who turns the game inside out. And it’s not all dunks either.
His most iconic plays were in the NBA, but this video touches on an exuberant, fascinating era in basketball history, and Erving was more responsible for it than anyone.