When 'Dr. J' played for the Hawks


Perhaps the most famous member of the Hawks who never played a game during regular season, Julius "Dr. J" Erving's presence brought about hope that the Atlanta team could become a dominant force during a time when the shorts were small and the hair was big. The AJC Photo Vault looks back at the controversy and confusion that kept one of greatest players of the game from building a local dynasty.

Unhappy with his contract with the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association, Erving struck a deal with the Hawks before the 1972 draft for the National Basketball Association. But the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him, leading to a series of legal wrangles.

For one week of training camp, Dr. J was a Hawk, teamed with Pete Maravich. He averaged 24 points in two exhibition wins before the ABA forced him back to the Squires.. The Hawks were fined $25,000 per game by the NBA. Erving went back to Virginia for a second season. Facing the possibility of losing Erving to the NBA, ABA officials arranged for him to stay in the league with the New York Nets. The Hawks, Squires and Bucks all received some compensation.

During the summer of 2009 Erving moved to Atlanta to be near family and oversee his investment --- the former Heritage Golf Club in Tucker which he revamped under the name Celebrity Golf Club International a few years earlier. (The property subsequently went into foreclosure and Erving lost several million dollars on the deal.)

In an interview with AJC at the time, he reflected on his brief stint with the Hawks.

"Have you ever thought about how things would have been different had you been able to stay with the Hawks?" sports writer Steve Hummer asked.

Erving: "I was in camp with Pistol [Pete Maravich], Walt Bellamy, Lou Hudson. We had an All-Star team. We played two exhibitions games, and I bet you in both we scored north of 140 points. We were an unstoppable team. I don't know if anybody could have stopped us. It would have been different for everyone involved."

 


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Georgia Tech looking for answers in a few spots
Georgia Tech looking for answers in a few spots

With a little more than two weeks to go before Georgia Tech plays its opener, coach Paul Johnson has concerns about the depth and performance of some areas of his team. Namely, depth at wide receiver and guard and the state of the kicking game. A trustworthy No. 3 receiver has yet to emerge. “The pecking order is Brad Stewart and Jalen Camp,&rdquo...
Atlanta United remains favorite to win MLS Cup
Atlanta United remains favorite to win MLS Cup

Atlanta United is predicted to win the MLS Cup, but not the Supporters’ Shield, according to the website fivethirtyeight.com. The Five Stripes have a 21 percent probability of winning the MLS Cup, but just a 34 percent probability of winning the Supporters’ Shield. The Red Bulls have a 37 percent probability of winning the Supporters&rsquo...
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart explains why offensive personality remains work in progress
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart explains why offensive personality remains work in progress

ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart was still in teach mode when he went before the media on Wednesday night. Smart avoided cliches and explained the philosophy that has the No. 4-ranked Bulldogs competing at a national championship level in just his third year leading the program. For as much attention as skill position players...
Young knows Hawks’ commitment after Schroder trade
Young knows Hawks’ commitment after Schroder trade

Trae Young got the message. Loud and clear. Consider what the Hawks did in 28 days this summer at the point guard position: June 21: Acquired Young, the No. 5 overall pick, in the NBA draft. July 13: Agreed to a trade with the Nets for veteran Jeremy Lin. July 19: Agreed to a three-team trade to send two-year starter Dennis Schroder to the Thunder...
Harman saw Shannon Sharpe’s television talent early
Harman saw Shannon Sharpe’s television talent early

Falcons tight end coach Wade Harman is not surprised that one of his former pupils has turned into a nationally televised sports talk-show host. In 2000-01, Harman was the tight ends coach of the Baltimore Ravens and coached tight end Shannon Sharpe. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Sharpe, who played at Glennville High and Savannah State...
More Stories