Julius Winfield Erving II (1950- )

Julius Erving slam dunking against Spirit of St. Louis, St. Louis Arena, Missouri November 6, 1974
Public domain image

Professional basketball player Julius Winfield Erving II, respected by teammates and the fans alike, is best known for his on-court flair and inventive movements, introducing the slam dunk into the game of professional basketball.  Erving, nicknamed “Dr. J,” was born on February 22, 1950 in Roosevelt, New York.  He began his professional career in the American Basketball Association (ABA) for the Virginia Squires (1971-1973) and later the New York Nets (1973-1976).  From 1976 to 1987 he played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Philadelphia 76ers.

While playing basketball at Roosevelt High School, Erving’s teammates nicknamed him “The Doctor”, which later was changed to “Dr. J”.  Erving attended the University of Massachusetts for his college career under Coach Jack Leaman. After two years of NCAA College Basketball, Erving averaged 26.3 points and 20.2 rebounds per game.

In 1971, he left college and joined the Virginia Squires in the ABA. After two seasons with the Squires, Erving entered the NBA Draft where he was picked 12th by the Milwaukee Bucks. However, Erving tried to sign with the Atlanta Hawks but due to legal issues Erving was required to play another season in the ABA. The Virginia Squires sold Erving’s contract to the New York Nets before the 1973 season.

Erving made an immediate impact with the Nets, leading them to two ABA Championships in 1974 and 1976.  During Erving’s five-year ABA career, he won two ABA Championships, three ABA Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards, and three ABA scoring titles.

In 1976, the New York Nets joined the NBA, but due to financial problems they were forced to sell Erving’s contract to the Philadelphia 76ers. Erving led the 76ers to the 1977 NBA Finals, but lost the series 4-2 to the Portland Trail Blazers. By the 1982-83 season Erving and teammate Moses Malone dominated the competition and won the 1983 NBA championship.

Throughout Erving’s NBA career, he won one NBA Championship (1983), received one NBA MVP award (1981), and was an 11 time All-Star selection (1977-1987).  His career statistics averaged 24.2 points/game with a total of 30,026 points, 2,272 steals, and 10,525 rebounds in the ABA and NBA combined. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993, and two of his teams have retired his number: New Jersey retired number 32, and Philadelphia retired number 6.

Erving has been married twice and has six children. His son, Cory, was killed in a car accident in 2000. His daughter from an extramarital relationship is tennis player Alexandra Stevenson. Erving has served on the boards of directors of several companies including Sports Authority and Coca-Cola. He lives with his wife, Dorýs Madden, in New Jersey.