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DOCTOR, REVEAL THYSELF
As Told to Mark Bechtel
June 17, 2013
Thirty years after leading the Sixers to the NBA title—Fo'-Fo'-Fo'!—and on the eve of the release of his biopic, Julius Erving paid a house call to share his reflections on several photographs—some rarely seen— from his playing career
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June 17, 2013

Doctor, Reveal Thyself

Thirty years after leading the Sixers to the NBA title—Fo'-Fo'-Fo'!—and on the eve of the release of his biopic, Julius Erving paid a house call to share his reflections on several photographs—some rarely seen— from his playing career

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BEFORE GAME 4 OF THE ABA FINALS VERSUS THE DENVER NUGGETS

It was springtime. I've got the shoulder bag on the other shoulder—brown bag, shoes are matching, little Cuban [heel] and a linen suit. Yeah, I felt very style conscious at that time. Every time you step out of the house, you're representing your family, representing who you are.

The hair came from a couple of influences. Darnell Hillman, who played for Indiana, always had the biggest 'fro. And Artis Gilmore. It was like, Darnell, Artis and me. We had a little hair competition. Darnell taught me how to make it work, with the cake cutter and the blow-drier. Artis never made his work. It was big but it was all over the place. He always had a lopsided 'fro going. But Darnell, nobody could touch his. He could jump so high, and his hair would just blow in the wind. His hair was a little finer grade, so it moved every time he moved. Mine would hold its position. We kind of took it seriously. I guess it's kind of like what guys do with tattoos now. Everyone gets tatted up, and every time you see them they're adding tattoos. Tattoos are a statement of body art. My body art began and ended right there [points to Afro].

JAN. 27, 1976 | Denver

SLAM FROM THE FREE THROW LINE, ABA DUNK CONTEST

In camps and clinics I would always finish my lecture by running from the foul line and dunking. What can I say? It's a combination of a gift and a lot of hard work and determination and some confidence. The gift is the hang time. In order to get there from the foul line, you've got to get up pretty high. It's a combination of a broad jump and a high jump. I was never great at either one of them, but I was pretty good at putting the combination together.

There's a sensation associated with flying. For me it started as a kid, in the park, jumping out of swings. Right next to my housing projects we had swings, and they were in a huge sandbox. It was white sand. So when you came home dirty, you had sand on you. There was ultimately a fence out there, and I always worried if I went too far I'd hit the fence. I always found a way to land. In the early days, when I was six, seven, eight, it was like a tuck-and-roll. I got to the point where I could jump out of the swing, land and nail it, like in the Olympics, when they do the vault. Height never bothered me. It was early training, and I didn't even know it.

MAY 10, 1974 | Uniondale, Long Island

THE NEW YORK NETS WIN THE ABA CHAMPIONSHIP

That's a bad look right there. Whopper [center Billy Paultz] with his hair slicked back, and [me with] the reversed Nets jersey. Might not even be my jersey. It's just celebrating the moment, feeling no pain. Whopper was a great teammate, a guy who transformed himself from the fat guy at St. John's into the Whopper, somebody you had to deal with. And it took two hands to handle the Whopper. This was one of those moments where you never know when it's going to happen again—or if it's going to happen again.

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