Today in 1987, Julius Erving was making history
On this day in 1987, Dr. J became just the third NBA player to score 30,000 career points.
Now that the novelty of cradle dunks, ferocious baseline jams and angelic, swooping stuff slams has worn off, and NBA fans shift their interests to three-point shots, ball rotation and low defensive intensity, the legendary feats of NBA trendsetters such as Julius Erving begin to lose luster and perspective as our instant-information dominated media cycle microwaves heroes and shapes the narrative.
Dr. J is the innovator of the funk dunk, he’s the sultan of swoop and poetry in motion. Because of his in-game slam exhibitions, the NBA All-star weekend continues to be driven by the highly-anticipated Slam Dunk contest.
While Michael Jordan and Vince Carter get major props for commercializing the dunk and making it the most anticipated play in basketball, Dr. J had already delivered us some of the greatest dunks in history. He laid the foundation for a generation of athleticism that revolutionized the sport.
Dr. J averaged 20 points and 20 rebounds in college, was a fantastic scorer and one of best bucket-bruisers the game has ever seen. He began his legend on the courts of Rucker Park and his superstar talent and marketability helped the ABA stand toe-to-toe with the NBA for a stretch.
Erving was one of a crew of future Hall of Famers from the ABA that flooded the NBA and helped improve the profile, entertainment value and financial stature of the league.
He was already killing the ABA for six years by the time he came to Philly in ‘76-’77, won a championship in 1983 and became an 11-time NBA All-Star. Some pundits try to discredit his name and game, but The Shadow League won’t allow such an iconic and influential figure to be put on the back burner.
Check out these three dunks of funk by The Doctor.
One-handed Scoop Slam over 7-footer Bill Walton
It was Game 6 of the 1977 NBA Finals and Erving put his thing down against Bill Walton, the defensive UCLA legend with the scruffy beard and the edgy demeanor.
This is considered to be an all-time great dunk because Erving ran the length of the court like a receiver blanketed by five defenders. The dunk marked his transition from the ABA to the televised NBA market.
The Baseline Contortionist Act against Kareem Abdul-Jabar
In the 1980 NBA Finals, Erving produced what was called by Sports Illustrated, "The, No Way, even for Dr J, Flying Reverse Lay-up". Dr J called it "just another move".
Rock The Baby Over Michael Cooper
In the waning moments of a regular season battle with Magic Johnson’s Lakers, Erving banged one down on Lakers defensive wizard Michael Cooper. Legendary Lakers radio broadcaster Chick Hearn best described the dunk as a "Rock The Baby" slam dunk. This signature dunk provides insight as to where Michael Jordan came up with the inspiration for some of his signature flushes.