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Having Brought Out the Child in Michael Jordan Due to His “Admiration”, 76ers Legend Recalls Almost Forming a Superteam in 1972

Published 09/20/2023, 10:49 AM EDT

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Having played in both the ABA and the NBA, he is looked at as one of the best players at the time. Even the great Michael Jordan has nothing but praise for this Philadelphia 76ers legend. Following his year in the ABA in 1972, he wanted to shift to the NBA. But this caused a lot of issues for teams around the league.

In an episode of the Knuckleheads podcast, Julius Erving talked about the time he almost got drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1972. The Bucks were coming off a championship win but still had the 6th and 12th picks in the NBA draft.

Julius Erving almost got drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks

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Julius Erving who had a stellar season in the ABA for the Virginia Squires, wanted his contract terminated to come to the NBA. The NBA had announced that all ABA contracts would be honored by the NBA. But the Atlanta Hawks were the only team to reject the idea. This led to Julius Erving signing with them before the draft. This meant that once his contract with the Squires had come to an end, he would be a player for the Hawks.

So Julius Erving came to the 1972 draft as an unavailable player. The Bucks were not aware of it and drafted Erwing with the 12th pick. This put the Bucks in a position to have a big three of Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Julius Erving. But things didn’t pan out as hoped because Julius Erving had already signed a four-year contract with the Atlanta Hawks.

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According to the by-laws of the NBA, The team that drafts a player has rights to the player. But Hawks also had rights to Julius Erving because of the deal he signed with them.

 

The teams were not able to find common ground. The Bucks received Erving’s rights from the NBA Board of Governors. But Erving stayed with the Hawks and even played a preseason game for them. This led to the commissioner putting heavy fines on the Hawks. Later, a federal judge issued a ruling that Julius Erwing had to go back to the ABA and fulfill his contract.

After further discussions, the Hawks had to pay $100,000 and two second-round picks to the Bucks as compensation. Julius Erving made it to the NBA in 1976 and had a great 10-year span with the Philadelphia 76ers. He is considered one of the greatest dunkers ever and has even inspired the great Michael Jordan.

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Michael Jordan admired Dr. J

Julius Erving once revealed that thought he was better than MJ. This was during the early years when Jordan got into the league, and Julius Erving thought he was better than MJ at the time. But his opinion of MJ changed over the years. In 1998, in his book “For the Love of the Game”, Michael Jordan said, “I couldn’t do anything when I was matched up with Julius because I had so much admiration for him“. Jordan revealed that he was happy to share the same floor with him.

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Michael Jordan also went on to say that he wanted to learn from Julius Erving off the court as well. Dr.J having signed a shoe endorsement in 1976, made Michael Jordan look up to him on his business endeavors. This inspired Jordan to pursue his greatness off the court.

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Written by:

Rijin Varghese

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Rijin is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the NBA for over a decade. He likes to learn about the nuances of sports, understand every player's contribution to a team, and also learn the logic behind player signings and team building.
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Edited by:

Yeswanth Praveen