Julius Erving is NBA royalty, and on his 62nd birthday, I celebrate the career accomplishments of the coolest player the game has ever seen. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant may have been better overall players, but even that is debatable.
Dr. J was so far ahead of his time, he never really needed to develop a more well-rounded offensive game until he was in his late 20s to early 30s. The smooth, graceful and powerful athlete he was, was already vastly superior to his peers.
He dominated in the ABA in a way that rivals or surpasses just about any player in any era of the game.
He is a part of a small group of players simply known by their nickname (Dr. J, Shag, Magic, Air). The Doctor changed the game intangibly as much as he did tangibly.
He made the aerial game cool. His style and graceful demeanor was disarming, but his killer on-court instinct was vicious. All that while physically defining what a swing man should look like.
Dr. J embodied African-American dignity in a time when blacks in this country desperately needed an image of pride, excellence and grace.
As a kid, he was easy to look up to and easy to love. He was the rare player that you and your dad loved; his appeal bridged age and racial gaps.
Time and era will never allow for another presence like Dr. J, so let us look back and enjoy the amazing career of Julius Erving.