Julius Erving The Best Player In History?

As some of you may know, I’m also a writer at Hardcourt Mayhem. One of my fellow bloggers there is working on a series called “Best Ever Series”. A couple days ago he mentioned Julius Erving. Here’s the link. And here’s a quote:

Next of the candidates in line was the game’s ambassador of the 70′s who modernized basketball and created its own modern playing style. His name was Julius Erving.

He was called the “Doctor” and “Dr J” because he operated on guys when he was on the court. His aerial acts, legacy, accomplishments and other things made him a legend.

Indeed before he came to Philly, Erving was a king of the American Basketball Association in the early 70’s. He played for the Nets at that time. When he came to the NBA, he played for the 76ers and a few years later the Sixers win the championship. But, is he really the best player ever? I’ll let Darko (the author of the original post) do the talking. He gave 12 points in his case for Dr. J being the best player ever. They were:

  • High Flyer
  • Finishing
  • Individual Superstar
  • Spectacular Play
  • Clutch Performance
  • Physical Gifts
  • Off-ball Defense
  • Dominance
  • Household Name
  • Accomplishments
  • Ability to Play in Any Era
  • Quotes

So let’s examine the argument and then you decide.

High Flyer:

Although he wasn’t the first one to finish in variety of ways at the rim and doing that in spectacular way, the Doctor did that to a whole new level.

He had explosiveness, athleticism, soft touch, vertical jump and the other physical gifts. Additionally, he had variety of moves and soft touch with large hands to make him excellent.



 The Doctor was one of the game’s most physically gifted players of all time. He had one of the top explosiveness and athleticism ever, as he also had big vertical jump, was quick etc.

Additionally, he had large hands, soft touch and terrific moves to score inside the paint. He was excellent high flyer, as he was capable to score in variety of ways at the rim.

Individual Superstar:

He earned the nickname the “Doctor” because he operated on guys out there. He had all of the needed things to excel and establish as a terrific player on both sides of the court.

Additionally, he was an underrated all-around forward. He was good passer, terrific off-ball stopper, above average on the man, run the brake superbly and was a great presence on the glass.

Spectacular Play:

 He revolutionized playing above the rim and turned it into an art form. He was like a wizard with the ball, who was capable to finish at the rim in variety of ways.

Julius possessed dozens of moves, soft touch, had such grace and was truly exciting. His high flying acts were so amazing and effective, as he dominated with those abilities.

Clutch Performance:


—————–Regular Season:24.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 50.6% field goal percent

———————Post Season:24.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 49.6% field goal percent

—————————Finals:26.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists,  2.6 steals , 52.6% field goal percent

Physical Gifts:

 One of the main reasons why Julius Erving was such a dominant force on the court and a basketball legend were his physical gifts. He was without a doubt, one of the most physically gifted players of all time.

The Doctor was notable for his explosiveness too. He was one of the most explosive finishers ever, with a respectable case for the first spot too.

Off-Ball Defense:

Although he was more known for his offense, Julius Erving was also great defensively. His specialty was off-ball defense, which was arguably second to none.

That’s right. He was actually the first player to consistently do the chase down blocks, another aspect where he excelled. He was also a great shot blocker and the stats prove that.

He managed to lead once in total blocks (consistently first for all non big men) and was among the top five leaders, especially in playoff time.


 He built his own image and style while doing that in fashion. He was truly unstoppable when he entered the rim, where he could finish in dozens of ways and his dunks weren’t blocked at all.

It’s a shame that his peak was in the ABA, but he did average incredible 37.9 points and 14.2 rebounds against Bobby Jones, one of the finest stoppers of all time.

Household Name:

 He was indeed the household name of basketball in the 70′s. That’s right. The Doctor revolutionized the NBA, as he took the game off the ground into the air.

He was truly a hit at the time. Julius was a phenomenal player, who was arguably the best in the decade and off all time, even though there were other terrific players.



  • NBA Champion (1983)
  • 2× ABA Champion (1974, 1976)
  • 2× ABA Playoffs MVP (1974, 1976)
  • NBA Most Valuable Player (1981)
  • 3× ABA Most Valuable Player (1974–1976)
  • 11× NBA All-Star (1977–1987)
  • 5× ABA All-Star (1972–1976)
  • 2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (1977, 1983)
  • 5× All-NBA First Team (1978, 1980–1983)
  • 2× All-NBA Second Team (1977, 1984)
  • 4× All-ABA First Team (1973–1976)
  • All-ABA Second Team (1972)
  • ABA All-Defensive First Team (1976)
  • ABA All-Rookie First Team (1972)
  • J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (1983)
  • NBA 35th Anniversary Team
  • ABA All-Time Team
  • NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • #6 Retired by the Philadelphia 76ers
  • #32 Retired by the New Jersey Nets

Ability to Play in Any Era:

Julius retired as the fourth and sixth all time leading scorer in both regular and post season for a reason. He always put himself in great chances, thanks to his finishing and ability to get to the basket.

Additionally, he was terrific defensively. In particular, his off-ball defense which was arguably second to none. He was notable presence at the lanes and was the master of the chase down blocks.

He ranks high in those categories, as he ranks 12th  and 13th on the all time list in playoff  and regular season defensive win share.  So, he did make a positive impact on that side of the court too.

Quotes: (a quote of a quote. HA!)

“Here I was, trying to win a championship, and my mouth just dropped open. He actually did that! I thought, ‘What should we do? Should we take the ball out, or should we give him the ball back and ask him to do it again?’ It’s still the greatest move I’ve ever seen in a basketball game, the all-time greatest.” ——––Magic Johnson on the Baseline Move.



I personally see where Julius could be the best of the best, better than Michael Jordan. Erving was one of the best all-around players to step out on the court. And as you see from the quote, another great player in Magic couldn’t even bash the Doctor. I never saw him play live. Just videos and pictures. Highlights, basically. But think about it. As much of an impact Jordan had on basketball in the 90’s, Dr. J had the same impact on the 70’s. Even if he’s not THE best, he will always be one of the best in my book (and that’s not the Sixer fan talking here. It’s the basketball fan). I urge you to read the original post for even more details and a few videos too.

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