Great NBA dunkers are in a Hall of Fame of their own. The great dunkers are not always the leaders on a particular team, but they sure make the crowd go wild with their creativity and unmatched athletic ability.
NBA legend Julius Erving knows a great dunk when he sees one. And he saw a few of those at the last NBA Slam Dunk Contest 2016. In particular, Erving highly praised Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic), for their amazing dunks.
Erving spoke on LaVine and Gordon to Complex.
“I’ll tell you; Zach has put on a show the last couple of years. He has to get kudos. I don’t know if the surprise factor and the timing coordination dunks that he does are as impactful as what Vince Carter brought to the scene when he did a few things that hadn’t been seen before,” Erving said.
“I think with Connie Hawkins, myself, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler, there’s a lineage there, and I think Vince shook it up a little bit there with a couple of dunks there. I’m gonna let him reside in that spot right there,” Erving said.
How good was the 2016 NBA Slam Dunk Contest? Erving believes it was definitely worth seeing.
“It was clearly as good as the Wilkins-Jordan showdown, and I had a showdown with David Thompson back in ’76 which was the last year in the ABA. It doesn’t get acknowledged as much, but it was a great showdown. But Zach and [Aaron] Gordon, in terms of the guys who are judging and to hear what they had to say during that time, records are made to be broken, and standards of the bar are established to be challenged so somebody can go above it. I would put those two guys, the things they did this past show in Toronto, at the top of the bar,” said Erving.
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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