Dr. J still holds special spot among New York basketball fans


Our Julius basketball t shirts are one of my favorite designs, and one that has a story behind it.

The last Nets championship came on May 13, 1976, 37 years ago, when the New York Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets 112-106 at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York. I know because I was there.

I watched as Dr. J and the New York Nets took home the championship, and the confetti fell from the rafters. It was the last championship I attended in person until the New York Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007, but it was my first, and I was at least there, though maybe not old enough to truly appreciate what I had seen.

In the early 70′s, Doctor J was everything that Lebron James and Michael Jordan was COMBINED. He dominated games where his long thin frame flew like Superman above everyone else. But his strength was underrated. He could also muscle his way in to the basket as well. Certainly not as big or as strong as Lebron, but his agility would make up for it. And his clutch was better. He was MJ-like in leadership and in clutch. He played defense as well as either of those two as well.

Dr. J was a Long Island New York native, so it was natural for him to play at Nassau Coliseum. In those days, the Coliseum wasn’t as decrepit as it is now. It was a decent place to play and watch games.

In game six of the Championship series vs. the Nuggets, they held a 22-point lead over the Nets in the third quarter. But behind the Doctor, the Nets came back with a furious zone press, forcing one turnover after another. “Super” John Williamson and “Jumbo” Jim Eakins, made clutch shots. Williamson got 24 of his 28 points in the second half, and the Doc scored 31 points and had five steals.

Not only can I say I was at the Championship game, but I was also at the last A.B.A. game ever played. In the 1976-77 season the next year, the Nets moved to the NBA, but Dr. J was traded to the 76ers, and I suffered through many years of futility, rooting for the likes of Bubbles Hawkins and Mike Gminski, instead of Doc.

I jealously watched on TV when Doc won the Championship in Philly with Moses Malone, but at least I had the memory of seeing him in person, in his prime, and let me tell you, he was magnificent.

The Nets won their last Championship, and for another 37 years, the closest the Nets came was getting to the NBA finals twice, but bowing out both times to stronger opponents. I didn’t see those games in person. It just wasn’t the same.

Those days are a distant memory. My brother and I haven’t always got along, but we shared that special moment of watching a Championship together, and I can still remember us cheering together as they won. It was a beautiful moment for a little kid to be awed by, and it led me to a lifelong love of basketball. Now I look back on those days as special. So naturally, I’m looking forward to seeing theDr. J special tonight on NBA-TV.

For me, the Doctor will always be the best, because he was my hero as a kid. Someone who came from a neighborhood not far away. Someone who influenced me to take up basketball in grade school and high school, always dreaming of playing like Doctor J, but more like a slow, white Doc Goodie.

Well, I had fun anyway.