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Hall of Fame basketball forward Julius Erving, or "Dr. J," was an acrobatic player in the NBA and ABA. His dunks and graceful play helped change the game.
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During the 1976-77 season, the 76ers buzzed through the playoffs to reach the NBA Finals, where the team fell to the Portland Trail Blazers in six games. After two straight years of reaching the NBA semi-finals, in 1980 Erving returned Philadelphia to the Finals, where the club lost to the Los Angeles Lakers and its rookie point guard, Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
While L.A. got the trophy, Erving nabbed the series' biggest highlight when, in Game 4,
he glided past a series of defenders in midair, from one end of the hoop to the other, before softly putting the ball in the basket with an underhanded scoop. The play subsequently came to be known as the "Baseline Move."
"My mouth just dropped open," Magic Johnson later recalled. "He actually did that. I thought, 'What should we do? Should we take the ball out or should we ask him to do it again?'"
The following season, despite earning MVP honors, Erving did not have enough of a supporting cast to bring his team back to the championship round. In 1982, after another heartbreaking loss in the Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers, the 76ers retooled the club's lineup, trading for Houston Rocket Moses Malone, for the upcoming season.
For Erving and his teammates, the 1982-83 season proved nearly flawless. After finishing the regular season with a 65-17 record, Philadelphia stormed through the playoffs, losing just once and finishing off the Lakers in the Finals with a four-game sweep.
The next few years, however, were less successful. With an aging roster, Philadelphia, anchored by forward Charles Barkley, started to transition to a younger club. Following the 1986-87 season, Erving retired. In all he was a member of 11 NBA All Star teams and played in more than 800 games. Between his NBA and ABA stints, Erving scored more than 30,000 points during his career.
In 1993 he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Since stepping away as a player, Erving has continued to stay close to the game. He has worked as a sports analyst for the NBC television network and as an executive for the Orlando Magic. He has also pursued many other business opportunities.
Erving is the father of eight children. He married his second wife, Dorys Madden, in 2008. The couple has three children together.
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