At one point during his ABA playing days, Erving was on the verge of switching leagues and actually reported to the training camps of NBA’s Atlanta Hawks in Savannah, Ga. There he met up with gangly Pete Maravich, who was a veritable magician with a basketball in his hands. Dr. J calls him the most skilled player he’s ever seen and was awed by the “unimaginable” speed with which Pistol Pete could do crossover dribbles, snap passes, and no-look maneuvers.
The two players soon enjoyed a telepathy on the court, with Maravich feeding the ball to Doc in the Hawks’ fast-breaking offense. Erving never looked forward to a season more than he did that with the Hawks, but it was not to be. In a tangled legal web, which involved arbitrator Archibald Cox, who was later a Watergate prosecutor, Erving was ordered to return to the ABA’s Virginia Squires or sit out the season. He rejoined the Squires, but fans now are left wondering what might have been if Erving and Maravich had become teammates.
When Erving finally did enter the NBA, with the Philadelphia 76ers, he led the Sixers to the 1983 title, became the first noncenter in 17 years to win the league’s MVP award, in 1981, and in his final game in 1987 became only the third player (with Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to ever score more than 30,000 points in his career.