Originally posted on Around the Arc  |  Last updated 6/11/13
This article ran originally on Philly.com on Monday, May 10, prior to the initial airing of the documentary. Check out the original article here. --Julius “Dr. J” Erving is the latest next subject in the award-winning NBA TV Originals series. "The Doctor," a 90-minute documentary, had its first airing Monday night, between Games 2 and 3 of the NBA Finals. Many people are familiar with the myth of Julius Erving; the gravity-defying dunks, the Converse All-Stars, the big, bouncing afro, basically the all-around “swag,” for lack of a better word. Yes, the legend of “Dr. J” lives on. But, for all those familiar with the myth, many are unfamiliar with Julius Erving the man. He played at a time where games weren’t too often televised, and lived in an era where social media didn’t allow access to every aspect of an athlete’s life. All of his actions, both on and off of the court, weren’t subject to social scrutiny. Because of this he was able to shy away from the spotlight after he kicked off his Converse for the last time, opting to allow other to tell tales of his greatness.That is until NBA TV came calling. While following up their critically-acclaimed “The Dream Team” documentary from last summer, the production team was searching for an interesting, exciting, and transcending topic, making Erving an ideal candidate.Along with his storied playing career, the film reveals the challenges Erving has faced off of the court and explores personal issues never previously addressed.  image from: mysneakerpage.net“I am quite pleased with the way the film turned out,” Erving stated in a conference call with media members late last week. “Quite pleased, and emotionally drained from the roller coaster ride. The film brings out the emotions; the joy, and the ecstasy, along with the low points.”“My hope is that people can relate to it, and identify to the human aspect portrayed in the film,” he continued, in response to a question I asked about what he hoped people would take away from the film.Erving’s assessment of the film is extremely accurate, as it does an excellent job of taking the viewer on the journey that was Dr. J. From his days as a streetball legend at New York’s famous Rucker Park, to his domination of the ABA, all the way to his days in the NBA and beyond, it is all captured. Despite touching on some of his greatest moments and accomplishments, the film is far from a fluff piece, as it features Erving opening up about a number of personal issues, including the deaths of close family members, that many have never heard him address. Erving did not hold anything back from the film, and opted to give fans the most accurate portrayal of him as a person. “I gave the [documentary crew] carte blanche,” he stated. I basically let them discuss whatever they wanted. They actually only used about a third of the total interview footage.”With that third though, the crew was able to capture the entire arc of Erving’s illustrious career, covering the good and the bad, the highs and the lows. “The film enabled me to revisit some great people, places and times in my life, and I hope after watching it people will get a better understanding of the journey I’ve been on.”The journey was conveyed very well via film, and it is difficult not to feel an added appreciation for Julius Erving after viewing “The Doctor,” especially after seeing a young Michael Jordan credit Erving for molding his own style of play early in the film. Today, almost 30 years removed from his playing days, Dr. J is as cool as ever, driving around in his Maybach, shades on, smoothly answering questions from the crew, excited to share his story.“The documentary will show the ways in which I changed the game,” he stated in a manner that came off as confident, yet not cocky. For those unaware of Erving’s impact it will do just that. But for those already aware, “The Doctor” simply serves as a telling tribute to a true basketball pioneer, and one of the game’s living legends. 
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