It is interesting that all the plays on words about Erving's nickname have, invariably, accepted doctor as physician. So we have: The Doctor cut up the opposition. He operated. He showed a surgeon's skill. And so forth. But, in the final analysis, the Doctor was more like a Ph.D, one who studied and learned, and then passed on his knowledge. The Doctor's gift was that he added to the game and helped us to enjoy it so much more.
The Doctor was a teacher, a professor; the Doctor was a gentleman and a scholar.