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Before Air Jordan, Doc Operated Above The Rim

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Dr. J’s Top 10 Dunks

When Michael Jordan was only seven years old, Julius Erving (aka Dr. J., The Doctor) was already operating high above the rim. He was electrifying fans, who until then, were more accustomed to seeing the game of basketball played on the hardwood floor.

Wilt is the First Serious Dunker

While Wilt Chamberlain is credited for finally enabling the NBA to draw more fans than Ringling Brothers’ Circus or The Ice Capades, “The Stilt” (he despised that nickname) was no fan favorite. Other than in his home town of Philadelphia, Dip was probably the most hated player in the history of the NBA. The Doctor on the other hand, was a whole different story.

You could compare Erving to Willie Mays. Both athletes created so much excitement, even when they played on the road, they made fans screamed with delight. It didn’t matter that they were killing the local favorites. Their performances were so spectacular, they drew cheers from the opposing teams’ fans.

Before Chamberlain, dunking was rare in the NBA. It was thought of as showboating, or unsportsmanlike. Dunks were even banned by the NCAA from 1967-1976. After Wilt started dunking, his nemesis Bill Russell followed suit. Even if all they did was jump up few inches and shove the ball through the hoop, it was enough of a novelty to bring fans to their feet.

After Doc started playing for the Virginia Squires, a whole new vocabulary evolved to describe what he did. Just as Eskimos have dozens of words for snow, Dr. J. created a new language for dunking, including descriptors such as:
windmill, two hands, alley-oop, cradle, fouline, and behind-the-head, 360, and tomahawk.

Dr. J. Cradle Dunk January 5, 1983


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