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YouTube Gold: Dr. J On The Playground

Check out a young Julius Erving as he dazzles in Harlem

New York Nets: Julius Erving
 HEMPSTEAD, NY - 1975: Julius Erving #32 of the New York Nets dunks during a game played circa 1975 at the Nassau Coliseum in Hempstead, New York.
Photo by Jim Cummins/NBAE via Getty Images

When Julius Erving burst on the scene in the ABA in 1971, he electrified basketball fans with an amazing outburst of drives and dunks the likes of which no one had ever seen.

Later, he explained his exuberance by saying that when he was at UMass, dunks were still banned (the NCAA banned dunks when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, was thoroughly dominating college basketball) and when he could dunk again, he was more than ready to do so.

Erving learned to dunk playing street ball in New York, and in this rare bit of video from 1975, he turned up at Bill Robinson Park in Harlem to play.

People are hanging on trees and doing anything they can to see Erving, still quite young, take over the park.

This is a very intimate video, despite the short length, and you really get a sense of Erving’s magnificence. He is 73 now and like everyone else, time moves on and many other players have come (and gone) since he retired. He remains an exquisite presence. You can be sure the kids who are in the tree, if they are still alive, are still talking about that day at the park.