In high school he was nicknamed The Doctor by teammates but that was later changed to Dr. J. He played two years at the University of Massachusetts where he averaged 26.3 points and 20.2 rebounds per game.In 1971 he left college and joined the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association (ABA) where he played from1971 to 1973 and later the New York Nets from 1973 to 1976.
The combination of his incredible leaping ability, uncanny hang-time and his signature afro packaged together with his iconic nickname Julius “Dr. J” Erving became the face of the American Basketball Association.
In his five seasons in the ABA, Erving led the league in scoring three times, was the league’s Most Valuable Player in its last three years and led the Nets to championships in 1974 and 1976. When the ABA merged with the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1976, the Nets sold Erving’s contract to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Erving is the only player in history to earn MVP honors in both the ABA (three times, 1974 – 76) and NBA (1981), His accomplishments include three titles and 16 All-Star selections between the two leagues. His high-flying dunks and finger rolls brought a new era of swag and style to the NBA.
In the 1980 NBA Finals Dr. J displayed what was arguably the most athletic play in NBA history with his gravity-defying baseline, behind-the-basket, reverse layup. Magic Johnson has since called that play “the all-time greatest move I’ve seen.”
In his career Dr. J averaged 24.2 points per 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.