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Julius Erving, “Dr. J” of American basketball

NBA league always attracted a lot of attention and comments from spectators and experts all over the world. The stories about GOAT (The greatest of all time) never stop wandering among passionate fans of this beautiful game. Michael Jordan is one name that comes first when this topic is included in conversations between supporters of different NBA teams.

However, one name is particularly interesting in the history of the most popular contest in this sport. Julius Erving is one of the greatest legends in the history of USA basketball. Let’s check his playing and coaching story.

What did his college career look like?

Julius Erving was officially registered as a member of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1968. During the first two seasons, “Dr. J” scored 26.3 points and grabbed 20.2 rebounds per game. NCAA (The National Collegiate Athletic Association) banned dunking the same year Julius enrolled in the university. Following that decision, Erving could only show his dunking skills to his teammates in training.

After three years spent playing for University, Julius started to look for opportunities to play for the ABA team. Thanks to ABA’s hardship rule, he signed a contract with team Virginia Squires in 1971.

How was his time in Virginia?

Julius earned good status in Virginia very quickly scoring 27.3 points per fixture in his rookie 1971/1972 season. Consequentially, this player was picked in Al ABA Second-Team. Also, he was named a member of the ABA-All Rookie team and was a leader of the league in offensive rebounds.

Great debut appearance gave confidence to a hero of today’s story and preparation for the next challenges was done well. Afterwards, the second season was even better for Erving as he ended the campaign with scored 31.9 points per game. Ex-college star average in his second year in ABA 12.2 rebounds.

Where did he play next?

Following two relatively successful campaigns in Virginia, Erving decided to put signature on a contract with New York. Virginia was financially in very poor condition back then, so Julius signed an eight-year deal with the team from Big Apple. His fantastic performances positioned the squad as very stable regarding results in the upcoming years.

Afterwards, this small forward led roster to one more title in 1976 scoring 29.3 points per game.

The first season was very good for the team and player as New York went on to win the title defeating Utah Stars in the final. Additionally, the former Massachusetts college star averaged 27.4 points per game.

What was next Erving’s destination in NBA?

Following New York’s joining of the NBA in 1976, problems started to appear. New York had to pay some money to Knicks, but instead of that offered Julian Erving. However, Knicks declined the offer and made one of the worst decisions in the history of the NBA.

This amazingly talented player was sent to Philadelphia where he got to play with names like George McGinnisLloyd Free, and Doug Collins. After being close to winning the league a couple of times, Philadelphia’s board decided to bring center Moses Malone. Erving and Malone formed a powerful duo that led the 96ers to the long-awaited title by beating easily La Lakers.

In winning the 1982/1983 season Julius went on to score 21.4 points per game.

What were Erving’s characteristics on the field?

Julius was a very strong athlete on the court and was able to block opposite attacking players due to his jumping abilities. He was protecting his team in defense off the ball, so many experts considered him a revolutionary figure in USA basketball.

As we mentioned before, Erving’s dunking skills were tremendous and the only thing Julius was missing was versatility in performances. That’s why he couldn’t stop versatile Larry Bird, his biggest rival on the field.

How did the first season look for Erving in Big3?

There was a massive shock among 3×3 fans when it was announced that Julius Erving will join the Big3 league as a coach.

Before the start of Fireball’s inaugural campaign, “Dr. J” took charge of team Tri State hoping that he could repeat the successes from his career as a player. Jermaine O’Neal was a captain, while Bonzi Wells was a co-captain. Xavier Silas, Lee Nailon, and Mike James were the other three members of the squad.

Eventually, the team ended the regular season with a 3-5 score in the 6th place of the Big3 standings. Overall, the campaign didn’t meet the expectations of the coach, players, and fans.

What happened in the second Erving’s appearance in Fireball?

Julius stayed Tri State’s coach despite not so successful debut season in Big3. Amare Stoudemire, former NBA legend, became captain of the roster. His teammates for the second campaign in Fireball were Jermaine O’Neal, Nate RobinsonDavid HawkinsRobert Hite, and Bonzi Wells.

Fortunately, the team managed to qualify for the playoff finishing season with a 5-3 score. Tri State lost to Power in the semifinal with 51-49 in a super-thrilling clash. Eventually, Three Headed Monsters defeated Jermaine’s team with 52-49 in a fixture for third place.

 How successful was Julius in his third campaign in Big3?

Following the second campaign, Erving decided to bring very good reinforcements for the third season. Yakhouba Diawara and true legend Jason Richardson were brought to the roster to help the team to get a card to the playoff. Consequentially, David Hawkins and Robert Hite were not members of the squad anymore.

Finally, Tri State ended the season by making four wins and suffering four defeats. Erving’s team didn’t qualify for the playoff which was a massive blow for all people who support this squad.

What occurred with Tri State in 2021?

After massive disappointment experienced in the third Big3 campaign, Erving and his players wanted to redeem themselves in front of the eyes of their supporters. Earl Clark and Tony Wroten were picked in the first and second round of the 2022 Draft Pool, respectively. Larry Sanders joined Nate Robinson and Jason Richardson to form a strong roster ready to face hard challenges in the new Fireball edition.

Subsequently, the team ended the regular competition with an amazing 6-2 score and got a playoff ticket. Unfortunately, Trilogy pulled out a 50-42 victory in the semis and the players from Tri State ended another season devastated.

How did Julius and his team react to defeat in the semis in 2021?

Loss in the semifinal in 2021 gave motivation to the whole team ahead of the start of the new Big3 season.

DaJuan Summers and Garlon Green were new Tri State’s signings from the 2022 Draft Pool and the atmosphere around the squad was great prior to the competition. Additionally, the arrival of Justin Dentmon brought new blood to the roster.

Despite all efforts of people included in the work of a team, the results were poor. The score of four victories and four losses didn’t follow investments, so Julius couldn’t be pleased with the season.

Many guys didn’t have a chance to watch this player at his prime, but now have the opportunity to see him as a coach in Fireball. Winning three championships and four MVP awards were massive accolades for Julius. Attractive moves and coaching method is also not the most important thing and legacy Erving left to future generations.

His personality and work ethic in American basketball circles is something true audience remembers the most. Identity is not only shown on the court, but also after the game and practice. Julius Erving took care that his appearance is well-known and educational at the same time.

About the author

Marjan Nikolic

Passionate sports guy, coming from the eastern Europe where best basketball is played (yeah, I know you will not agree!). Dynamic 3x3 basket has special place in my heart.

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