Posted June 11, 2013

Video: Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving can still dunk a basketball at age 63

Ben Golliver, Chicago Bulls, Julius Erving, Marques Johnson, Michael Jordan, Philadelphia 76ers, Wilt Chamberlain

Julius Erving revealed a lot about himself in The Doctor, a documentary about his life that ran on NBA TV this week. The New York Times noted that Erving opened up about the deaths of his brother and son and discussed his long path to an NBA title.

The Doctor also revealed that Erving, one of the most influential dunkers in the history of the game, can still throw it down at age 63, more than 25 years after he retired in 1987. Erving’s right-hand slam — shown above — doesn’t look that much different from his dunks in the good old days: he rises powerfully, hangs a bit above the rim, palms the basketball like it’s a softball and gracefully completes the slam. Erving competed in the 1985 dunk contest and his entry there doesn’t look that much different from this dunk, although he did increase the degree of difficulty in ’85 by using a second basketball and rotating.

What does this tell us? For world-class dunkers, throwing down is like riding a bike. Here’s a look at some other former NBA players dunking in retirement.

Michael Jordan

Go ahead, get in your jokes about how Bobcats owner Michael Jordan is better than all of the players currently on his roster. Back in 2011, a 48-year-old Jordan easily dunked with his right hand at a “Fantasy Camp” for Bobcats fans. The dunk came — wait for it — 23 years after his last dunk contest title in 1988.


Wilt Chamberlain

In this ESPN Classic clip, a retired Chamberlain (age unknown; looks to be somewhere in his 40s) assaults the rim repeatedly against a helpless reporter. Oh, the brutality. 

Video via InsideHoops.com.


Marques Johnson

JerseyChaser.com posted a video of former NBA All-Star Marques Johnson jumping over a car at age 55. Yes, there’s a slight twist to this one, but the dunk is legit. Johnson told the site that he was “smitten” by Erving’s dunking ability as a teenager.


Spud Webb

TotalProSports.com posted this clip of a 47-year-old Spud Webb dunking. A number of YouTube commenters have questioned the clip’s authenticity because the 5-foot-6 Webb’s feet are not shown during takeoff and the camera shot is pretty tight. Regardless, the whole setup, with Webb taking off his jacket and showing younger players how it’s done, is mesmerizing.

Top video via BeyondTheBuzzer.com

16 comments
OutbackdeliDonaldCharuba
OutbackdeliDonaldCharuba

Don charuba at 53yrs old and only 6 feet 3 inches dunked in a regulation game. He dunked at 58 years olsd in lay ups at the world masters games and he will give it a fair go at 65 yrs  in 2016.

respectfully , dunkin don

DSM
DSM

Dr. J was an excellent player, but he was not remotely as good as the similar sized MJ, LBJ or Kobe and he claims to have invented wing player skills that Baylor and Barry had shown well before he arrived on the scene. 

john.schoneboom
john.schoneboom

Hey, I have that Wilt Chamberlain video, and that "helpless reporter" in it is none other than one Tom Seaver, Hall of Fame Pitcher for the New York Mets.

dave_wakeman
dave_wakeman

The Spud Webb dunk does look fake.  It isn't the tightness of the shot or anything...it is the exaggerated way that he gets off the ground.  Like he took a step on a step ladder and jumped.  It looks really fake.  

dreynolds48941
dreynolds48941

That Spud Webb one has to be fake.  Even the dialogue sounds scripted.  I would be shocked if Webb could actually touch the rim.

Gary714
Gary714

@DSM Dr. J is the most acrobatic player of all-time (and to fully appreciate him you have to have seen him in the ABA), but you are right he is not in the argument for greatest player of all-time.

Cornell1
Cornell1

@DSMGet real Doc reinvented the game. Baylor and Barry were not dunking on 7 footers right in their faces.

Did Baylor, and Barry dunk from the free throw line ? Nope. Mj, Kobe, and Lebron are all imitations of Doc. Doc set the blueprint and they are following it. If there had not have been a Doc, they would not exist doing what they do and did.


Cornell1
Cornell1

@DSM 

Get real Doc reinvented the game. Baylor and Barry were not dunking on 7 footers right in their faces.

Did Baylor, and Barry dunk from the free throw line ? Nope. Mj, Kobe, and Lebron are all imitations of Doc. Doc set the blueprint and they are following it. If there had not have been a Doc, they would not exist doing what they do and did.


riley8
riley8

@dave_wakeman I think they may have lowered the rim.  No way did a 5 ft 7 Spud get high enough to dunk a 10 foot high rim.

newshamg
newshamg

@Cornell1 @DSM Stop this - if he hadn't have done something they wouldn't have rubbish. 

Did you actually watch him play - and I don't mean video clips - did you watch him play at UM or in the ABA? He wasn't the only person back then playing the way he did - he was the best of them but he wasn't unique.

DSM
DSM

@SukeMadiq @DSM On what basis? Having seen both players in person, Kobe is a much better defender and shooter. It is harder to compare their rebounding skills, as they played different positions, but I will give the nod to Dr. J there, but to Kobe slightly in ballhandling. Dr. J was the better driver, but not by as much as Kobe was the better defender and shooter. 

Kobe's teams had a much better playoff record, although Shaq obviously deserves credit. But Dr. J also had excellent teammates--Collins, Toney, McGinnis, Barkley and Malone. I think Kobe rose to the occasion more often--much to my regret as a Sixers fan, having suffered through Dr. J. losing in the finals to Portland despite having home court advantage and to LA at home with Jabbar sitting out. 

Cornell1
Cornell1

@riley8 @dave_wakeman 

I agree this video is fake, but I can tell you what, Spud Webb in his prime a dunking machine.  I played against him 4 times in college and he dunked on use in each game and one time backwards.

DSM
DSM

@newshamg @Cornell1 @DSM I was not referring to Barry's dunking, but to Dr. J's claim that he invented 6'6" players with superior passing and slashing skills--Barry was a much better passer than Dr. J and a highly effective slasher. Baylor was certainly known for dunking on bigger guys--and his stats make Dr. J's claim of being the first great rebounder his size a joke. Of course, there was also the Big O, who was an inch smaller than ERving, but a far superior ballhandler and rebounder.

There are those who would argue that Connie Hawkins, Gus Johnson or Jumping Johnny Green invented hang time, but I think Dr. J's claim is stronger there.

I did see Dr. J in college, but he was not such a high flyer then--the NCAA banned dunking just as Jabbar came along and his team did not run much.

Speaking of the ABA, remember how sensationally acrobatic David Thompson was?  If he had stayed healthy...

DSM
DSM

@Cornell1 @riley8 @dave_wakeman Spud and Dominique on the same team were something to see--I sympathize with 'Nique's view that he was robbed at least once in the dunk contest vs. Jordan