Blessed with rare abilities that most can only dream about, Julius Erving put his arsenal on display every time he took the basketball court. With extraordinary body control and a supernatural ability to hang in the air, Doctor J was the ultimate showstopper. Erving’s moves were simply breathtaking as he used his long arms and size 11 hands to defy gravity and look as if he was truly gliding to the rim like an airplane.
Perhaps his greatest, most awe-inspiring moment took place in the closing minutes of Game 4 of the 1980 NBA Finals as his Philadelphia 76ers hosted the Los Angeles Lakers. With the Sixers trailing two games to one in the series, every play counted heavily as their goal was to get Dr. J his first NBA championship. With 7:35 remaining in the fourth quarter and Philadelphia ahead, 89-84, one of the most iconic moments in league history occurred
After receiving a cross-court pass from Bobby Jones, Erving took one hard dribble at the Lakers' Mark Landsberger and, from the block, took off for the moon. While in midair, Erving, with Landsberger already left behind, challenges Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, all 7-3 of him. Erving contorts his body as he is now facing the basket while still in midflight. With his arm flailing out of bounds, he reaches toward the backboard and is able to flick the ball off the glass, bank it just to the left of the box, put enough english on it that George Gervin would be proud of, and gets his two points while falling to the hardwood.
“Here I was trying to win a championship and my mouth just dropped open,” recalled Lakers’ guard Magic Johnson, then a rookie. “I thought, What should we do? Should we take the ball out or should we ask him to do it again?’
Erving, who finished the game with 23 points, five rebounds, three assists and a block, took the game over at that point. He scored 10 of the Sixers' last 16 points. He hit two foul shots after the reverse layup, hit an 18-foot baseline jumper, hit two more foul shots and then one swooping finger roll that was Ervingesque.
With the Sixers heading to Game 5, Doc was asked what he called the move. Not a move namer like teammate Darryl Dawkins, aka Chocolate Thunder, Erving simply said, "A reverse layup." To this day, there has never been a better “reverse layup” in the game of basketball.
Before Michael Jordan was dazzling fans with a vertical showcase of expression and creativity, it was the Doctor who established the blueprint and made it into a true art form. #RESPECT