Dr J - NBA 2K12

Dr. J: Still Ballin’

A must-read Q&A with the one-and-onlyJulius Erving. He's back--but on the NBA 2K12 court

Craigh Barboza

by Craigh Barboza, January 15, 2012

Dr J - NBA 2K12

Dr. J takes you back to the old school in NBA 2K12

day to do that.

EBONY.COM: Let’s talk about your computer-generated “comeback” in NBA 2K12. We see you’re still rockin’ tight shorts.

Yeah, there’s authenticity to 2K12 so we got on the Cons’, we got the high socks, and the short-shorts are definitely being rocked [laughs]. My character looks like me, though I never envisioned myself being quite that muscular. I never lifted weights when I was playing. If I got hurt and had to rehab, I’d go in the weight room. But other than that, strength training and weights, that was a no-no back in the day. Man, if you lift, you’re not going to be able to shoot the basketball: you won’t have feeling in your arms; you won’t have touch. Now guys lift before the game and get pumped up to play.

EBONY.COM: Do your kids play as their pops in 2K12?

No, my 10-year-old plays Derrick Rose and my 13-year-old likes Dwight Howard. I’m an afterthought.

EBONY.COM: In the game, players can step into Dr. J’s high-tops and take part in a classic rivalry. If you could go back, what’s the one game you’d love to relive?

[Thinking] It’d probably be one from ’74, when I was in the ABA playing for the Nets. There was a game against the San Diego Conquistadors. That was the only time I ever played in a four-overtime game. What a night! And we had to play the next day too [laughs]. I just remember things about the game. That’s when I scored my career-high, which was 63 points.

Last summer, I was out in L.A. talking about that game with my teammate Brian Taylor. His recollections were a little different than mine. I remember we lost the game. There was only one guy on the floor in the last overtime that could stand up [laughs]. It was the Conquistadors’ Warren Jabali, one of the strongest players in the league. He kept backing down our point guard, who happened to be Brian, taking him in the low post. The help was a little late getting there because we were all so tired ... That was an experience. I wish I could play that game — but not have to play the next night! Or I would pick the final game against the Lakers, the year we swept them in the finals.

EBONY.COM: That 1983 Sixers championship team [the videogame actually has the ’84 team] finished the regular season with a league-best 65 wins and lost just one playoff game. How many teams in NBA history were better than that Sixers club with you, Moses Malone and Mo’ Cheeks?

How many? … None. I would match that team against anybody. We had all the pieces. We had four centers, four forwards and four guards, which was an unusual makeup for a team anyway. And there were a lot of interchangeable parts.

EBONY.COM: Is there anything the real Dr. J could do that the videogame character can’t?

I haven’t scrutinized 2K12 that closely but there was always something in my repertoire that was ready to happen. [Basketball is a game of adjustments.] This one play with Walter Davis comes to mind because not long ago someone was eating at his restaurant in Arizona, and called me.

Walter was there. They said he had a picture on the wall from one of our games. I remember the play: Walter had taken off on a fast break and I ran after him. I was determined to block his shot. Walter went up first. I leaped and extended myself as far as I could go, while reaching for the ball. Then he moved the ball to a different position and I went after it. Now, we’re floating in the air while all this is happening [laughs] and somehow he maneuvered the ball around my hand. I didn’t block it, and he made the layup. We never had any physical contact. It was just a clean play that happened during hang time.

So there are plays like that, and plays that happened in practice or on the playground, that could never be captured in a videogame. It only can be experienced by the participants, and that’s always going to be the separation between playing in your living room and going to the arena where you’ll witness something that you will see for the first time and maybe never see it again.  

EBONY.COM: So what picture is on your wall?

That’s the irony. I don’t have any up, besides a small 6x6 photo of Bill Russell and me, dressed in suits. That’s on my mantle. We got beards and I look like his brother or his son [laughs].

I don’t need to remind myself of what I’ve accomplished. That was one of the driving forces behind my decision to auction off a lot of my basketball memorabilia. I thought, okay, I’ve had some of this stuff for 40 years.

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