"It's not something that was a result of a master plan we came up with" – Julius Erving deflects being labeled the savior of the ABA

julius-erving

The American Basketball Association (ABA) lasted only nine years but produced several big names. At the top of the list is Julius Erving, someone best known to most as the NBA superstar who played for the Philadelphia 76ers.

It wasn’t easy for the ABA when it initially started. Some teams joined but were unable to sustain their drive. With a rocky first couple of years, the league needed something or someone to alter the tide. That came in the person of Erving.

The things just worked out for Doc

‘The Doctor’ injected new life into the ABA with his airborne spectacle. He brought in the missing element of excitement with his gravity-defying ways, a reason why most considered him the savior of the league.

But in the eyes of the three-time scoring champion, that particular label was not important to him. Rather, he explains that everything just fell into place and happened for an unknown reason, rather than it was a master plan that they executed properly.

“It was something that just happened. It's not something that was a result of a master plan we came up with,” the former UMass Minutemen member stated via UPI.

Although Erving feels he had no big part in the ABA's success, some people felt otherwise. One of them is M.L. Carr, who played for the Spirits of St. Louis in the ABA and went on to play for the Detroit Pistons and the Boston Celtics in the NBA.

“Julius was our masterpiece, our showcase. We used to say, 'Hey, we got a guy over here that can play with anyone,” Carr pointed out.

With Erving at the helm, the ABA and the NBA engaged in an intense battle to determine which was the better league. The key to that was convincing other talent to sign up.

It reached the point when the ABA was becoming more sensible. Aside from Carr, the league reeled in other huge names, including Artis Gilmore, Moses Malone, George Gervin, and Rick Barry. With that cast, there was no denying that the American Basketball Association had become a more attractive league to watch.

The merger

Despite being an attraction, the ABA continued to struggle. Its popularity failed to reel in fans, and the league just failed to raise revenue to survive on its own. Hence, after years of negotiations between the ABA and the NBA, the rival leagues agreed to merge on August 5, 1976.

Four ABA teams made the jump to the NBA. These were the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York/ Brooklyn Nets, and the San Antonio Spurs. But beyond that, it was the transfer of Erving and company that most were looking forward to.

Without question, Erving was the player who stood out. The three-time NBA MVP drew the interest of several teams, but in the end, the Sixers won his services. A notable highlight of Julius’ run with Philly was winning the 1983 NBA crown.

Dr. J hardly showed a decline as he aged. He was able to remain efficient until his retirement in 1987. He was wise enough to use his wits, aware he would be outplayed by younger and athletic players. That worked out well for him, which is why he remains one of the greatest players ever to play the game.

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