SI Vault
 
A Series For The Ages
John Papanek
May 04, 1987
It has been said that unless one saw him play in the ABA, one never saw the real Dr. J. And it's true. In May 1976, he was still a curiosity to most of America, just like the ABA's red-white-and-blue circus ball and the three-point field goal. That spring, nobody outside of New York or Denver (except subscribers to a fledgling cable-TV service called Home Box Office) saw, during one ABA championship series, the greatest individual performance by a basketball player at any level anywhere—ABA, NBA, BAA or UCLA.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
May 04, 1987

A Series For The Ages

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

Erving hit just two more free throws to finish with 31 points, but in this game his fury was felt on the boards, where he swiped 19 rebounds, many plucked with four fingers of a single hand. He also passed for 5 assists and made 5 steals and 4 blocks. Most of the late rebounds and assists wound up in the hands of John Williamson, the Nets' muscular streak shooter, who scored 13 points in the last 8:45 as the Nets furiously caught up, finally went ahead and won the clincher 112-106.

Within months, the Nets and Nuggets, along with the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs, would join the NBA. The rumors about Dr. J that had been heard in Boston and Los Angeles and Philadelphia would be confirmed. But though he was only 26, his best games were behind him.

1 2