Posts Tagged ‘Julius Erving’

WRS Book Review: Dr. J: The Autobiography

Friday, January 24th, 2014

by Jimmy Williams







dr j.


“There ain’t no back in the day Nicca…Ain’t no nostalgia to this sh*t here. There’s just the street and the game and what happen here today.”   – Melvin ‘Cheese’ Wagstaff


When talking hoops with people these days, it’s sad because the legends of the past are often forgotten.  And that’s the case when talking professional ball or street-ball.  You watch TV and you would think that the game was played by only Magic & Bird in the 80’s, followed by Jordan in the 90’s.  Growing up in Philadelphia I know better.  One of the most popular figures of my childhood was Julius “Dr. J” Erving.  He was larger than life in the city.  He was also a legend in street-ball.   Most of the older men in my neighborhood wanted to be him and all of the older ladies would have given him their love canal if they had the chance.  Not only was he considered a great ball player but he has always been considered someone who carried himself with class.

The great thing about biographies is the chance to hear stories and learn details about someone’s life you had no knowledge of.   The Doc was an amazing ball player and he did carry himself with class but he was far from perfect.  This book is not only filled with amazing stories of legendary games and players but it also talks about his shortcomings and his personal struggles.  If you are a hoops fan and love the history of the game, this is a must-read.  The stories of playing one on one with Pistol Pete and George Gervin are amazing.  His relationship and thoughts on other legends such as Kareem and Bill Russell are also great.  There are also stories of Moses, Barkley, Magic, Bird, and many more.

Much was made of his story of fathering a child with a woman who was not his wife.  Not because he cheated but because in the words of Jadakiss, “It’s no way she gonna have a baby out of her mouth”.  Doc said she only became pregnant because she couldn’t give him a twirly due to getting braces and they had “traditional” sex only one time.  Now when I first heard about that excerpt I laughed and said, “damn, Doc was foul for talking about the mother of his child that way”.  When reading what he said and putting it into context, it doesn’t come off the same.  Don’t get me wrong, Doc is still a creep, but he was being honest and transparent when telling his story.

As a hoops fan and one who loves the history of the game, this book was amazing.  I may overrate it based on the fact that I’m a hoops junkie.  This was a great story that dealt with race, poverty, basketball, business, family, and making love to a lot of women.  That will always be a recipe for a great book in my opinion.


Jimmy “The Blueprint” Williams of The War Room, for War Room Sports

Who is Bernard King?: The NBA’s Invisible Genius

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

by Chuck Modiano

G – Magic 
G – Isiah
F – Larry
F – Bernard
C – Kareem/Moses

No last names are necessary.

These men make up the 1st team All-NBA stars in Bernard King’s last two Knick seasons before he blew out his knee in March 1985 – the same year he led the NBA in scoring. This is the company King kept.

In 1984, King would produce a half-season scoring tear never duplicated in NBA history; upset the Pistons in the greatest playoff series performance in NBA history, and almost single-handedly upend the 1984 Celtics — one of greatest teams in NBA history.  In 1984, Bernard could be found in dated Converse commercials, rap songs, and Sports Illustrated covers which bowed to “His Royal Highness”.

With an unstoppable Carmelo Anthony balling like its 1984, and reports of Bernard’s induction into the Naismith Hall of Fame, The Invisible King will receive another bow this week.

While starving King fans will naturally celebrate, something just isn’t right. King’s 15 minutes of crumbs come too little, too late – 15 years to be exact.

We could only hope this week will help jump-start the only real NBA debate. Bernard’s rightful place in the Hall of Legends.

Where did The King stand amongst the greats? Let’s ask them

“Bernard King was the toughest matchup of my career. And I say that from the heart.” – Julius Erving [HOF 1993]

“Bernard King… is the best forward in the league, hands down”.  – Larry Bird [HOF 1998]

“We are just in awe of Bernard” — Isiah Thomas [HOF 2000].

Now consider that Larry and Isiah’s praise came before the 1984 playoffs and epic Showdown in Motown where


No other player in NBA history has ever averaged over 40 playoff points on 60% shooting in the playoffs – not Wilt in ‘62, not Jerry in ‘65, and not Michael in ‘88.  Not Kareem, Shaq, Kobe, or Lebron.

Only Bernard King.

King also did it while battling Isiah, the flu, and mangled hands.

Afterwards, King was asked about his “hot streak”. Bernard asked back:

“At what point is it no longer considered just a roll?”

Answer: The rest of your life Bernard. The rest of your life.

King’s perceived eruption on a national stage was no hot streak.

What happened right before it was even more historic, but never documented until now:


Lebron and Carmelo, please read that again.

No other player in NBA history has likely ever matched this half-season stretch [2].

In the playoffs, the unstoppable King simply took more shots. That’s all.

For the few mesmerized souls who watched those games on WWOR Channel 9, King’s “30@60for40” validates that we aren’t suffering from nostalgia gone wild.

Bernard King was who we thought he was.

Unlike Knick legends Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, and Willis Reed, no one more than Bernard transforms grown Knick fans into babbling children, gets stuffy 50 year old accountants to jump around like Spike Lee, and elicits reactions of: “I swear I saw Jesus in shorts”. No, not “Black Jesus” ala Earl Monroe’s other nickname — just “Jesus”.

Truth be told, here is what many Knick fans in bars swear to this very day: at his pre-injury peak Bernard King was a better small forward than Larry Bird and a greater scorer than Michael Jordan.

If that sounds crazy to you, please consult his peers again:

“I have never feared anybody that I’ve played against – Bird, Magic, Doctor, Michael – and I respect and love all of those guys… Bernard King is the only guy that ever scared the hell out of me.”  – Dominique Wilkins [HOF 2006]:

Listen to Dominique. Few in media will publically utter such words for fear of ridicule or straight-jacket. But we are not the crazy ones.

It is the rest of the sports universe that has gone insane.

Unless long dead, there is no other athlete in any sport whose gap between greatness and recognition is larger — even after this week.

The humiliations are endless.

Will Bernard make the Hall of Fame this year? Should King have made the NBA’s 50 greatest players list? Will the Knicks finally retire his iconic #30 jersey?

The questions themselves demean NBA history. What about media?

In February, Lebron had six straight games of 30 points on 60% shooting, and lost their efficient minds, but no mention of King. Last year ESPN issued its 25 greatest playoff performances since 1978, and no King again. Sorry B, your 42 @60% and legendary Game 5 just weren’t dominant enough.

In 1984, The New York Times closely chronicled King’s nuanced brilliance in “Mysterious Moves” and “Never a Knick Like Him””, but on the 25th anniversary of that magical season, another small forward stole the show with a 10,000 word profile: Shane Battier:  “The No-Stats All-Star”.

What about the greatest player in Tennessee history, half of the famed Bernie and Ernie Show, and legendary Kentucky killer? When Kentucky coach John Calipari told his 2010 team that Bernard was talking pre-game trash in Tennessee’s locker room, the youngsters responded:

“Who is Bernard King?”, ”What number is Bernard King?”, and  “I’m guarding him?”


How did we get here?

Is there some vast hide-King conspiracy? Not quite, but corporate interests have reduced the NBA’s Golden Era to “Magic vs. Bird”, and lesser victims include Kareem, Julius, Moses, Isiah, and the great small forward of the 1980’s.

Bernard’s knee injury alone doesn’t explain it either. No one adds up career stats for Sandy Koufax, Gale Sayers, Earl Campbell, or Bill Walton. We know what happened to them.

Reasons for King’s vanishing includes playoff-lore hijackings by Isiah, Larry, and Michael [see II: Genius Unchained]; his unspectacular style, his early-career substance abuse, his forgotten Warrior years, his teammates, and his plodding coach Hubie Brown [see III. Genius Contained].

It also involves a dysfunctional Hall of Fame and sports media largely incapable of recognizing historic greatness without historic teammates. Despite being voted Most Valuable Player by their peers, King (1984), young Michael (1989), and Lebron (2006) were all denied those awards by media, and had their status as “winners” questioned. Where players see lack of support, media perceives lack of maturity, but only a lack of imagination could deny King as champion beside Patrick Ewing [see V: The King of Peers].

King’s past has been forgotten, a healthy future rarely imagined, but most of all, his present genius was never fully realized too far beyond his own peers, local fans, and a few journalists [3].

Bernard’s game was historically unique, but he often gets lumped into a sea of history’s high-volume scoring forwards. While The Tennessee Terror stormed on the NCAA scene with 42 points in his very first game as a freshman, his truer legacy can be found in his nation-leading 62% shooting.

Lebron James is receiving great credit for shooting 56% this year, but King shot 56% over a 5-year pre-injury prime (1980-85) and did it without any all-star teammates. The playoffs are where shooting percentages go to die (see Karl Malone), but King shot a stunning 58% in 18 Knick playoff games. Only the greatest ones maintain accuracy against playoff defense — our very best test for “unstoppability” across eras.

King also defied every selfish scorer stereotype. He was not a one on one player, never needed isolations, never took bad shots, and did it all within the game’s flow. He was a scoring scientist whose quick release, midrange mastery, and disciplined shot selection have gone the way of Kareem’s skyhook [see IV: Genius Explained].

King also suffered from a pre-Jordan era where it was thought impossible to score like Mike, but win like Magic. If Jordan is any indication, Bernard was too unselfish. Jordan had more athleticism, style, and shot attempts, but not accuracy [see VI: The Jordan Rules].

Today, Bernard is mostly remembered for his 60 points on Christmas Day, and scoring 50 points on back-to back nights in 1984. Mr. Hot Streak has now become Mr. Hot Game, and The King of Efficiency has been largely reduced to Jamal Crawford – a career 41% chucker.

Before Lebron’s February outburst, the last great scoring streak came from Kobe Bryant in 2004. Back then, Scoop Jackson tried to educate the youth when he asked the obvious:

“What’s up with the love? [Bernard] had scoring stretches that lasted seasons, not just games.”

Jackson continued:

“He was a genius interrupted… The universal love that evaded his career was found scrolled inside a book penned by his peers.”

Jackson’s question was ignored, so a decade later the kids want to know:

“Who is Bernard King?”

Have a seat son and move over Mr. Battier, King’s invisible genius must be explained.

II.   Genius Unchained: Bernard King vs. Isiah and Larry (coming Tuesday)
III.  Genius Contained: Bernard King vs. Hubie (coming Wednesday)
IV.   Genius Explained: Bernard King vs. Youtube (coming Thursday)
V.     The King of Peers: Bernard King vs. Media (coming next Monday)
VI.   The Jordan Rules: Bernard King vs. Michael (coming next Tuesday)

Or you can always just ask his peers:

Man, Bernard King, he was the truth.”  — Bob McAdoo [HOF 2003]


Chuck Modiano od, for War Room Sports

[1] Beginning on January 14, King scored 1219 points (482-808) over the next three months spanning 40 regular season games (ending right before regular season’s final meaningless game before the playoffs)

[2] It is highly unlikely that King’s 40 games of 30 points on 60% shooting has been duplicated – even when factoring eFG. The highest FG% for a 30 PPG season is Kareem Abdul Jabbar who scored 32 points on .577 shooting in 70-71 and an incredible 35 points on .574 shooting in ’71-’72. Adrian Dantley also scored 30.3 points on 57% shooting in ’81-’82.

[3] Many journalists have helped keep King’s memory alive. Special thanks to Ira BerkowDennis D’Agostino, Bobbito Garcia and Ali, Alan Hahn, John Hareas, Scoop Jackson, Bruce JenkinsBill Simmons, Dave Zirin, and others.

Kiss My Mascot!!!

Monday, March 14th, 2011

As an adult when I go to sporting events at times I get irritated by the mascots. They run around act a fool and sometimes get in the way of the actual event. I sometimes wonder if they are even necessary.

Back in November (2010), the old Sixers and Flyers arena, The Spectrum, was set to be demolished. On tv as they were showing footage from events in the arena they flashed pictures of the old Sixers Mascot Big Shot. I had not seen Big Shot in years because he had been replaced by a steroid using hyper active bunny named Hip-Hop.

Big Shot


At the moment I saw Big Shot all sorts of memories popped in my head. I thought of going to Sixers games as a kid with my father, uncle or grandfather and watching Dr. J and Magic put on performances that make the current NBA look like a minor league. I thought of watching Charles Barkley playing his heart out and intimidating players that were Bigger, Stronger, and Faster than he was. I thought of watching Michael Jordan play live and putting the fear of GOD in Hersey Hawkins just by looking him in the eye.

What I realized when I saw Big Shot was he represented the moment when I fell in love with hoops. So maybe mascots do play a part in the sports world. Maybe there are kids right now at Sixers games who are watching Hip-Hop and are falling in love with the game. I doubt it though. Later in life when they see Hip-Hop they may think of Evan Turner stinking the place up or Elton Brand being abused by every other teams’ big men, or Andre Iguodala being asked to do more than he should.

On second thought maybe I should be giving credit to Dr. J, Maurice Cheeks, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird and many of the legends I had the privilege of watching play at the Spectrum.

I guess mascots can represent both the good and bad. Unless of course we are talking about the Phillie Phanatic because he kicks a$$ no matter how good or bad the Phillies are.

The G.O.A.T Mascot!

What do mascots mean to you? Do they matter at all? Or am I just tripping?

Jimmy Williams