There are athletes, there are legends and then there are legendary athletes. Rarely does one person fit in all three categories, transcending their sport and boasting a larger than life aura or personality.
It would be easy for Philadelphians or Sixers fans to slot Julius Erving into all of the above. His high-flying, Rucker Park-packing, fluffy-Afro’d basketball excellence has been written and talked about for decades.
Erving is so authentically classy and revered that people are flattered simply to share his nickname. Earlier this week, new Sixers head coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers recalled a great anecdote with Sixers announcer Marc Zumoff about how Rivers first earned the nickname “Doc” when he was a teenager because of his stellar play at a basketball camp while wearing a “Dr. J” T-shirt.
When Rivers finally met Erving as a NBA rookie and shook his hand to introduce himself, saying, “Nice to meet you, I’m Glenn.” Erving quickly noticed that Rivers was trying to shy away from the “Doc” nickname because Erving was the originator, and Julius replied with “No, you’re Doc.” A supremely classy gesture from the famed hoops star.
Along those lines, you could argue Deion Sanders holds some similar legendary athlete attributes for his two-sport prowess and pop culture crossover success.
But according to Prime Time, just meeting Erving for the first time nearly brought him to tears, as he explained in a clip from his most recent podcast.
Wow. I always find it interesting how revered Philadelphia people and athletes are viewed by non-Philadelphians. Sometimes the people and things we value aren’t perceived the same way outside of the Delaware Valley. Never think that about Dr. J, because while we hold him in high regard here, that is equaled and often surpassed by how he’s viewed outside of the tri-state area.
While there is now a new “Doc” in town, don’t fret about how to reconcile calling Rivers by Erving’s famed handle. Zumoff cleared that up for all of us straightaway.