It was an ordinary enough day for Julius Erving. There was no great intensity in his face or in his movements as he glided through practice at Cathedral College in Douglaston, Queens, and visitors who had watched him in the first three games against Denver could be excused for wondering why he looked so—so mortal.
Outside the gym he climbed into his dirty white Avanti II and tooled down Cathedral Boulevard, smiling, waving to men raking leaves and to schoolchildren playing on cement courts, even though they didn't all recognize him. His license plate JWE-32 (the W is for Winfield) created no stir as he moved into the traffic on busy Northern Boulevard. "I don't seem to have the same problem as Clyde Frazier," said The Doctor, and he seemed perfectly content.
At the Scobee Diner he stopped for a cheeseburger on his way to closing a deal on a $250,000 17-room house on 6 l/2 acres in stately Upper Brookville, Long Island for himself, his wife and two children. The cheeseburger looked tiny in his size-11 hands, and he put it down when a stringy teen-age girl stood giggling in front of him.
"Are you Dr. J?"
"Can I have your autograph?"
"Were you at the game last night?"
"Thanks for your support," he said, signing a packet of E-Z Wider rolling papers.
Between sips of a Coke he said, "Even if we win this championship, we really haven't proved anything except that we're champions of the ABA. We'd be the No. 1 contender waiting for a shot at the title. The NBA. That would be a great series. It would put basketball right where it's supposed to be. I'd love to play against Dave Cowens or Rick Barry, and, as players, I know they'd love to play us. But unfortunately that's out of our hands. Personally, I don't see how a merger could do anything but strengthen basketball."