I was a 10-year-old boy when Julius “Dr. J” Erving launched his brilliant professional career in 1971 with the Virginia Squires in the now defunct American Basketball Association. As luck would have it, I was living at the time in Norfolk, Virginia, where the Squires were based. With his spectacular, high-flying moves to the hoop, Dr. J quickly attracted attention from basketball fans everywhere, including a Young boy in Norfolk. My Dad took me to Norfolk Scope, a brand new arena at the time, to see Dr. J make some of his amazing moves and leaps to the basket. Among Dr. J’s accomplishments, he won the ABA’s first Slam Dunk Contest at its 1976 All-Star Game in Denver, Colorado.
Later in 1976, the ABA merged with the NBA, which in 1984, reintroduced the Slam Dunk Contest at its birthplace in Denver. Erving again played a memorable role in that contest, wowing spectators with a dunk from the free throw line. Twenty-seven years later, and with Dr. J. courtside watching the dunkathon in Los Angeles, a player from Congo-Brazzaville, Serge “Air Congo” Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder, brought back memories of Erving. Air Congo, you have clearance for take-off in this video.
Air Congo still has a lot of flight miles to go before he can match Erving’s Hall of Fame basketball career. But I will give the young Congolese player props for that dunk in Los Angeles – it betters Dr. J’s in terms of distance. Dr. J’s foot appears to be over the foul line at takeoff, while Ibaka’s is behind the line.