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YouTube Gold: Dr. J’s Greatest Plays

Really, he was just extraordinary, a man ahead of his time

Los Angeles Lakers v Philadelphia 76ers
 PHILADELPHIA - MAY 11: Julius Erving #6 of the Philadelphia 76ers drives to the basket in what becomes known as “The Move” against Mark Landsberger #54 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #33 of the Los Angeles Lakers during game 4 of the NBA Finals on May 11 of the 1980 NBA Finals at The Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Jim Cummins/ NBAE/ Getty Images

One of things we like to do with our YouTube Gold series is to find videos of great and not-so-great older players. First, we figure that younger readers may not be as familiar and second, older readers may not remember them in all their glory.

So it’s nice to highlight them and to wonder how they would do in today’s game. Some guys are a big surprise. Take Bob Pettit. We were shocked at how modern his game was (we were also shocked at how healthy and youthful he looked in his late 80’s).

Which leads us to this nice compilation of Julius Erving’s greatest plays.

When he played at UMass, the NCAA still banned dunks, the strangest collegiate legacy of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

So when he got to the ABA in 1971, Erving dunked everything he possibly could. His Ruckers nickname, Dr. J., stuck and spread worldwide.

By the time the ABA merged with the NBA in 1976, Erving’s reputation was huge and the excitement was palpable. Over the next 11 seasons, he did insane things. He was one of the first to a dunk from the free throw line (Wilt Chamberlain did it routinely for free throws until the NCAA and NBA outlawed it). He made a legendary dunk over a healthy Bill Walton, did an insane rock the cradle dunk over Michael Cooper and the piece de resistance, a spectacular, improvised move that saw him go under the backboard only to - well, it’s here. Just watch for it. It’s against the Lakers. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, you will.

Magic Johnson said he was so impressed he asked him to do it again.

Erving paved the way for the aerial game that would follow. His best plays completely stand the test of time.