Dr. J’ Julius Erving explains his nickname exclusively to Class Act Sports
Julius Erving, better known as “Dr. J”, had an accomplished professional basketball career, and is one of the greatest players of all time.
Erving told Class Act Sports in an exclusive interview in Springfield Massachusetts at his son J’s Six Sports Inaugural Golf Tournament,
“I think legacy is something that you have to have a body of work that you work to preserve. You got to do something special, something different. I played in the ABA for five years in the NBA for 11 years with one team, the 76ers, and there were my 16 years. So I think in the 16 years, statistically I played in six championship series, nine conference final series. We won three championships, two in the ABA one in the NBA. I was an all-star every year and I’m a Hall of Famer. So there’s a body of work there that really represents 16 years of my 61.”
The Hall of Famer ranks fifth on the all-time scoring list, with 30,026 points. He also had 10,252 career assists and 2,272 steals. And when he thinks about his name linked to the greats of all time in other sports, it becoming humbling to him, which is why Erving has decided to give back.
“I feel like I’m in a peer group that’s universally recognized. And if you have the opportunity and platform, I think you should bring something to the table. So I’m big in terms of philanthropy. I like doing charitable stuff. I like being an inspiration to others. I’m looking for the next thing that is going to be significant as far as social redeeming value and personal satisfaction.”
Perhaps he has found it with his most recent venture, raising money for cancer research.
“I’m involved with an umbilical blood retrieval and storage company to use for transfusions. The transfusion of umbilical cord blood deals with about 80 or more systemic diseases. Involvement in this company might be the most important thing I do with my life. I think the best is yet to come.”
While the best may be yet to come, Erving did some pretty memorable things during his playing career, most notably, dunking from the free-throw line.
“It doesn’t have the shock value that it probably had when I did it back in the Slam Dunk contest in 1976. I used to do that a lot when I had clinics for Converse. And I would always finish the clinics with a dunk show. You go through the passing, you go through the rebounding, you go through the shooting. Kids are there getting bored. And I’d give them a dunk show. I’d give them the cradle, and two hands backwards. I’d give them dunks from out of bounds. I’d always wrap the shows with the run in from half court. Get to the foul line, and soar, throw it down and head to the locker room. That was the show closer,” Erving told Class Act Sports.
And while everyone knows the high-flyer as “Dr. J,” he told Class Act Sports exclusively how he got that nickname.
“I have a buddy his name is Leon Saunders. I started calling him the professor and he started call me the doctor. It was just between us. We had our nicknames. Lo and behold we graduate high school and both go to UMass, we separated for many years because he went over to Africa and did some stuff and I went my way. Now he is my golf buddy in Atlanta. And is like a little brother to me But he is the ‘professor’ and I am the ‘doctor’,” said Erving.
His playing days may be over, but Erving still has it. The ability to dunk, that is.
“I went in the gym, slipped on my sneaks- I had Dr. J’s. on- and I did dunk a basketball recently. So at 61, I guess the answer should be yes.”