As a huge fan of the game of basketball, and the NBA in particular, I was incredibly excited to read Dr. J’s autobiography. At the end of this lengthly book (423 pages) the best word to describe how I feel about it is conflicted.
Dr. J is a very detailed account of Erving’s life and very accomplished career. For fans of ABA and NBA history, this book is especially fascinating. The book goes back and forth between Erving’s personal life and his relationship with basketball. Reading about Erving’s take on what was going on culturally, politically, and racially in America as he was growing up was very interesting. His stories about teammates and opposing players in both the ABA and NBA were also illuminating. It’s always interesting to me to get another perspective on basketball from behind the curtain and to hear the more human stories about some of the games greatest players. Without question my knowledge of the history of professional basketball was expanded through reading this book.
My feeling conflicted is not so much with the book as much as is it with Erving himself and his admission of rampant promiscuity and infidelity for virtually his whole life. Yes he admits his mistakes and weaknesses literally from the very start of the book, but for any of us, that’s the least we can do when our actions hurt and damage others. What makes me feel so conflicted is that none of us are perfect, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone…”, while at the same time you just feel so bad for those who were hurt by those decisions. So in no way, am I or can I judge him, but as you read the book you definitely feel the hurt and tension.
At the end of the day Dr. J will be an interesting read primarily for fans of Julius Erving and professional basketball. Hands down Dr. J is one of the greatest and most dominant players to ever step onto the court and a history of professional basketball without mentioning Dr. J would be incomplete. So for the story on the life of one of basketballs greats and a detailed account of a very important era of basketball history, this is a great book.