The Doctor Is In Erving on a Roll in NBA Finals

By July 10, 2018Portfolio

“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

Philadelphia

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!’

ronthomas

About ronthomas

Ron Thomas, a sports journalist since 1973, became the first director of the Morehouse College Journalism and Sports Program in 2007. He is in charge of realizing the vision of the program’s founders, great filmmaker Spike Lee and the late ESPN.com columnist Ralph Wile.

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