Given his ten-season Philadelphia 76ers tenure, Julius Erving has certainly attained “legend” status in the City of Brotherly Love. The former high-flying guard inaugurated a new era of professional basketball, one hallmarked by smooth dunks and the fusion of ABA stars. Erving was also the last Sixer to win a Finals ring, when he and Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, and Moses Malone swept the Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers.
Flash forward to 2022 and yet another “Irving” is taking over the NBA airwaves for all the wrong reasons. Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving was suspended five games by Brooklyn for failing to apologize after sharing an antisemitic video on social media. And over the weekend, the Sixers legend (who spells his name with an “E”) shared his thoughts on Irving’s future in the league.
“The owners are greedy,” Dr. J told TMZ last weekend. “He’s going to end up in the league playing for somebody, no matter how toxic he is.
“As long as he’s young enough to score those buckets, and do what he does, be Kyrie, he’s going have a job.”
Erving Makes Joke Aimed at Fellow Irving
Irving punctuated his assessment of Irving’s situation with an analogy to his own story.
“I always thought it was a privilege, an honor, and a blessing to be able to be an NBA player,” he said … “So, if he could respect that a little bit more, I’d be happy with him sharing my name.”
Erving had a not-always direct path to the NBA. For starters, the NCAA had a rule against dunking when Erving suited up for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the late 1960s. Thus Erving, who would later earn a living off his poetic slam dunks, was limited to showing off for teammates in the gym — never in games.
Further, because the NBA prohibited players from entering the league before four years had elapsed since graduating high school, Erving was forced to play in the inferior ABA. Then, once his New York Nets made the transition to the NBA, the Nets owner reneged on a deal to increase Erving’s salary, though Erving led the Nets to the ABA championship a season before.
Erving Making His Opinions Known on NBA Greats
Erving’s comments about Irving aren’t the first time he’s made his opinions known on past and present players. Back in September, Erving weighed in on the greatest of all-time debate between LeBron James and Michael Jordan, offering a third option.
“People always make comparisons to people who are done. LeBron may play another six years LeBron may play one year we don’t really know. It’s very subjective,” Erving said via Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports.
“I think it’s the fans’ argument, not the players’ argument. So, I stay away from it. My all-time greatest player is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
All three players regularly feature on most all-time greats lists. And hey, Erving might have some personal stake in the matter: Philadelphia’s chip in 1983 came against Abdul-Jabbar. Not too shabby having one up on the greatest player ever.