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YouTube Gold: The Legend Of Dr. J

Julius Erving took a staid game and launched it into orbit.

Philadelphia 76ers Julius Erving, 1980 Finals
 UNITED STATES - MAY 11: Basketball: finals, Philadelphia 76ers Julius Erving in action vs Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia, PA 5/11/1980 
SetNumber: X24508 TK2

Julius Erving, aka Dr. J, is justifiably a legend. A New Yorker, he played college ball at UMass, where he put up huge numbers. Yet according to this video, he never really saw himself as a pro player until he began competing against NBA players in New York in the summers.

Once he got to the ABA though, he finished what guys like Elgin Baylor and Connie Hawkins started, turning it into an unpredictable aerial assault on the basket.

Erving said once that he had missed dunking, which was banned during his college years, and when he could do it again, he kind of went nuts.

He was so gifted that he was talked about nationwide despite the fact that most people couldn’t see him play because the ABA lacked a national TV contract. The best you could hope for were some grainy highlights on the news, and then only during the playoffs.

He was putting up surreal numbers before the ABA/NBA merger of 1976. And while his NBA career was somewhat more subdued, he still served notice from time to time that he was the one and only Dr. J.

Really only a handful of players transformed their sport. Babe Ruth did it. Muhammad Ali did it. Tiger Woods did it.

So did Julius Erving. His career was just insane; his greatness was off the charts. He remains one of the most respected basketball players in the history of the game.