The New York Times: Erving’s Record Forgotten, but Not Gone

March 10th, 2012

The New York Times
Published: March 10, 2012

“Deron Williams scored a franchise-record 57 points to lift the visiting Nets to a 104-101 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.” That is how one news agency began an article about Williams’s performance last Sunday. The news was repeated in newspapers and on television and radio, where it was also reported that Williams “broke the Nets’ N.B.A. franchise record.”

“You really don’t pay attention to it,” Williams, the Nets’ dynamic point guard, said to reporters. “It’s just one of those games where you start feeling good and let it go.”

Like Williams, I didn’t pay much attention to it, either. After all, Williams did not in fact set a franchise scoring record that night.

Once upon a tomahawk dunk, a sky-walking superstar named Julius Erving set the Nets’ single-game scoring mark. Erving, who floated above the competition wearing a tall Afro hairstyle and a star-spangled tank top and shorts, accomplished the feat while he and the Nets were a part of the American Basketball Association, an upstart professional league that began in 1967 and competed for players, fans and television audiences with the older, more established N.B.A.

Dr. J, as Erving was known in his electrifying, gravity-defying A.B.A. days in the 1970s, scored 63 points against the San Diego Conquistadors on Feb. 14, 1975. A crowd of 2,916 at San Diego Sports Arena witnessed one of the Doctor’s most legendary house calls, a four-overtime thriller that San Diego eventually won, 176-166 — a game filled with 72 personal fouls and 128 rebounds. (The scoring total remained a record until Dec. 13, 1983, when the Detroit Pistons, led by Isiah Thomas’s 47 points, squeaked past the Nuggets, 186-184, in a triple-overtime N.B.A. game in Denver.)

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