We look at Julius Erving’s ABA championship years with the New York Nets in the latest episode of Over and Back’s Basketball Mysteries of the 1970s with basketball-history enthusiast Reinis Lacis @LamarMatic, host of The Handle podcast.
We discuss how Erving fit in with new coach and NBA veteran Kevin Loughery, how Erving became a complete player who filled the box score, how Erving blended with his new mostly young teammates (“The Whopper” Billy Paultz, Bill Melchionni, speedy Brian Taylor and rookies Super John Williamson and Larry Kenon), how the Nets struggled early with constant pressing and fast breaking, how a team meeting after losing nine straight changed the course of the team, acquiring legendary ABA character Wendell Ladner and his friendship with Doc, how the Nets had a special close bond, a heated 1974 playoff series with Erving’s former team the Squires, sweeping a strong Kentucky Colonels team and beating a Utah Stars powerhouse for the Nets’ first championship.
We also talk about how Erving managed his increased celebrity and hobnobbing with the rich and powerful, how the Nets were unable to get much attention or acclaim in New York until it was too late, the Marvin Barnes-led 32-win Spirits of St. Louis’ stunning upset over the 58-win Nets in 1975, a blockbuster pair of trades between the Nets and Spurs that changed the course of both teams, a fierce seven-game playoff series in 1976 between Spurs and Nets that featured one of the biggest brawls in ABA history, the Nets’ ABA Finals upset of a powerhouse Denver Nuggets team (with David Thompson, Dan Issel, Ralph Simpson and future Erving teammate Bobby Jones), how the Nets overcame a 22-point deficit in the final game, and how Erving’s 1976 ABA Finals performance ranks among the greatest in history.
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