NBA legend and a slam-dunk champion himself, Julius “DR J” Erving has said that the slam-dunk contest is not what it used to be, and there’s a reason for that.
Erving admitted the contest itself isn’t going away any time soon, but the modern competitions have lost a step due to…mascots, according to ESPN.
“The mascots messed it up,” Erving said, referring to the stunts pulled during regular-season games as part of crowd entertainment.
Erving has a point, as he explains further.
“It was great seeing regular human beings, even though they were 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, running and dunking a basketball. When mascots started doing it with all the trampolines and all the crazy stuff and falling on the floor, then it became more like the X Games. The players can’t live up to that.”
Erving laughed when people tell him they saw him win the first dunk contest, which was part of the 1976 ABA All-Star Game in Denver.
“It’s probably the same number of people and the same people who say that they were at Wilt’s 100 point game in Hershey, Pennsylvania,” Erving said.
Erving, a 16-time NBA All-Star won an NBA MVP title in 1981, and led the Philadelphia 76ers to four NBA Finals in seven years, eventually winning the NBA title in 1983.
He retired in 1987 at the age of 37, and in 1993 was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1994, Erving was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the 40 most important athletes of all time. In 2004, he was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame.
Erving played in 836 NBA games, averaging 22 ppg, 6.7 rpg in 34.3 minutes per game. In ABA, Erving averaged 28.7 ppg, 12 rpg in 40.7 minutes of playing time in 407 games. In total, Erving played in 1243 games (NBA-ABA), averaging 24.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg.
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