“Sometimes when we’re playing a fastbreaking game, I dare to be great. I take a lot more chance on the court than I do in life.” – Julius Erving
By Ron Thomas
Pro basketball’s most celebrated acrobat, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Julius Erving, appears to be a paradox. On the court, even he compares himself to a crap shooter who just rolls out the dice, then leaves the result in the hands of fate. In his off-the-court activities, he says, “I’m a poker player who lays back and baits.”
But those contrasting styles are not a reflection of his approach to life. For, whether shaking and baking into tonight’s sixth game of the NBA finals at the Philadelphia Spectrum, or considering possible business ventures, Erving is a calculated risk taker who seldom loses.
In Game 5 of the series Wednesday night, 30-year old Julius Erving was the virtuous of the left baseline, scoring most of his 14 fourth-quarter points from there as Philadelphia made up a 12-point deficit before losing, 108-103, and falling behind in the series three games to two.
The Lakers double-teamed, triple-teamed and fouled Erving, but he always made the decisive breath-taking move in a 36-point performance.
It was an occasion on which Erving dated to be great.
“Taking chances is the only thing that’s made me the player I am,” he said. “The first time I grabbed the ball with one hand in junior high school (in Roosevelt Long Island), I was taking a chance because if it slipped out of my hand the coach would say, ‘What are you doing?’
“In college (at the University of Massachusetts), I passed to a guy cutting through the lane and he missed it, and the coach told me to ‘Take that move back to Roosevelt!’