Before Michael Jordan came along, Julius Erving was everyone’s favorite basketball player. During “The Last Dance” docuseries, Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen said Erving was his childhood idol growing up.
Erving is one of the most revered players in NBA history. Whenever he speaks, his comments hold a lot of weight because of everything he accomplished during his playing career.
That’s why LA Clippers superstar small forward Kawhi Leonard should feel fortunate to be Julius Erving’s favorite NBA player.
The Doctor dominated in the ABA and NBA
Julius Erving played five years in the ABA and 11 in the NBA. He began his playing career in 1971 with the Virginia Squires. Dr. J played two years with the Squires and averaged 29.4 points, 14.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 155 games.
After two years with the Squires, Erving played his final three seasons in the ABA with the New York Nets. The Hall of Famer put up 28.2 points, 10.9 boards, and 5.2 assists in 252 games and won the championship in 1974 and 1976. Erving also won three straight ABA MVP awards with the Nets, though it’s worth mentioning he tied with George McGinnis in 1974-75.
Following the conclusion of the ABA, Erving was sold by the Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers on October 20, 1976. The Roosevelt, New York native spent his entire NBA career with the Sixers. Erving appeared in 836 games with Philadelphia and averaged 22.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. He won the 1980-81 MVP award and led the Sixers to the championship in 1983.
Erving was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993. He’s one of the most iconic players of all time since he dominated the ABA and NBA and attended many NBA games before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Clippers, led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, were blessed by Julius Erving’s presence on several occasions during the 2019-20 season. That’s because Doc is a huge fan of Leonard.
Dr. J speaks out on why he loves Kawhi Leonard
On the latest episode of The Old Man and The Three with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter, Julius Erving talked about why Kawhi Leonard is his favorite player to watch in the NBA. Leonard is one of the top players in the league and has won two championships and two Finals MVPs.
“I love watching Kawhi,” Erving said. “Going back to his days in San Antonio, you know, I was a big Tim Duncan fan, and in San Antonio having their roots in the ABA, you know, has created a bias for me. So when Kawhi came on the scene and then he was MVP in the playoffs, I started watching him more closely, and I like what he brings to the table. A lot of people don’t like his demeanor, but I love his demeanor. He says something when he has something to say. If he’s got nothing to say, go talk to somebody else. So yeah, he would be at the top of my list.”
Leonard won the 2014 Finals MVP when the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat in the Finals. The California native captured his second championship and second Finals MVP award in 2019 after leading the Toronto Raptors to their first-ever title over the Golden State Warriors.
Kawhi Leonard is one of the most humble superstars of all time, so Julius Erving is always rooting for him.
Can Kawhi Leonard lead the Clippers to their first title?
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers to the second-best record in the Western Conference during the 2019-20 season. However, LA lost to the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2020 playoffs despite taking a 3-1 lead.
Leonard is under a lot of pressure to lead the Clippers to the championship in 2020-21 since he choked in Game 7 of the Nuggets series. It’s going to be interesting to see if he can make Julius Erving proud and bring the Clippers franchise a title for the first time.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.