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Dr. J: The Autobiography

Dr. J: The Autobiography

4.4 9
by Julius Erving

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With startling honesty and an unmistakable voice, Dr. J is a historic self-portrait of an American legend, Julius "The Doctor" Erving.

With his flights of improvisation around the basket and his towering afro, Julius Erving became one of the most charismatic (and revolutionary) players basketball has ever known. But while the public has long revered this


With startling honesty and an unmistakable voice, Dr. J is a historic self-portrait of an American legend, Julius "The Doctor" Erving.

With his flights of improvisation around the basket and his towering afro, Julius Erving became one of the most charismatic (and revolutionary) players basketball has ever known. But while the public has long revered this cultural icon, few have ever known of the double life of Julius Erving. Dr. J traces the inner lives of the nearly perfect player and the imperfect man—and how he has come to terms with both.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
On the playgrounds of New York City, at the University of Massachusetts, in the fledgling American Basketball Association, and ultimately with the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, Dr. J became one of pro sports' first true superstars—paving the way for future celebrity hoopsters like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Charles Barkley. Born Julius Erving in 1950 and raised by a devout deaconess in East Meadow, N.Y., Dr. J both electrified and revolutionized basketball with his leaping offensive play and daredevil improvisation above the rim. In this compelling and surprisingly emotional autobiography that often reads like a novel, the man who passed the 30,000-point threshold in his last professional game in 1987 details growing up with an absent father, a sickly little brother, and a pregnant older sister; his steadfast refusal to join street gangs and disdain for prejudice; the haunting death of his 20-year-old son in 2000; and his commitment to building a fiscally comfortable post-basketball life. Along the way, Dr. J also reveals the origins of his nickname, his obsessive tendencies toward order, and—despite a self-acknowledged weakness for women—his decency as a human being. Co-author Greenfeld (Triburbia) makes his novel-writing presence known with slam-dunk storytelling that, of course, includes vivid descriptions of Erving's notorious slam dunks, as well as creative liberties with dialogue. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
The NBA's most transformative player submits an unusually revealing autobiography. During the 1970s, when officials still bothered to call traveling and palming violations, the high-flying Erving arrived and, nevertheless, managed to do things with a basketball no one had ever seen. For years, basketball's best-kept secret, "Dr. J" ("more moves than Dr. Carter has liver pills") played his college ball at low-profile UMass and then for five years with the fledgling ABA, a league with no national TV contract. When the ABA merged with the NBA, Erving signed with the Philadelphia 76ers and played another 11. With Greenfeld's aid (Triburbia, 2012, etc.), he covers the basketball triumphs, the especially crazy days of the ABA, the All-Star games, the MVP awards and the championships, and he comments throughout on some of his better-known mentors (Bill Russell, Walt Frazier, John Havlicek), teammates (Daryl Dawkins, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks) and opponents (Larry Bird, Magic Johnson). Fans will appreciate his surprising takes on players like Pete Maravich, Bernard King and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Erving's own assessment of the evolution of his game, and his tales of mixing with a black elite that included the likes of Bill Cosby, Arthur Ashe and Miles Davis. They might not expect the attention he devotes to struggle and loss: the premature death of an already absentee father; the spare poverty of his Long Island childhood; the early death of a younger brother to asthma and, later, of an older sister to cancer; the family visits to the Jim Crow South and the adult encounters with the modern civil rights movement; the delinquency of his children and the death of a son; his lifelong struggle with fidelity. Erving's reverence for rules and order and his simultaneous passion for improvisation have played out in his private life as well, not always to good effect. A good enough treatment of the phenomenon called "Dr. J" and an especially thoughtful account of the man, Julius Erving.
New York Daily News
“A deeply personal and almost shockingly honest book.”
“There’s enough basketball here to keeps fans interested, but the book isn’t really about what happens on the court. It’s about a thoughtful man who, for a time in his youth, was a famous athlete. A rewarding reading experience.”
Sports Illustrated
“The book is quite an accomplishment: a terrific memoir by a man worthy of one.”
Library Journal
Erving's autobiography is an uncommonly insightful sports memoir. The first half of the book, covering up until Erving joins the American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1971, is particularly moving. Most impressive of all is Erving's ability to evoke through language the changing perspective of his young self as he grows up. Here commendations must surely be given to collaborator Greenfeld (Boy Alone), a gifted writer of both fiction and nonfiction, for understanding how to elicit and convey these feelings. Unfortunately, once Erving moves to the NBA, around three quarters of the way through, the book begins to grate at times. The personal insights and stories take a back seat to needless boasting, listing of personal statistics, and tedious summaries of seasons and games. Still, one is left admiring Erving tremendously. Sports fans will be reminded that he really is the innovator of the modern game that we associate with Michael Jordan and LeBron James, and everyone will be struck by Erving's ability to own up to his mistakes, even when he seems unsure about whether he could have done things differently. VERDICT This work is essential for all basketball fans and should prove entertaining to all sports fans. It may even appeal to some general readers who wouldn't ordinarily read about sports.—Derek Sanderson, Mount Saint Mary Coll. Lib., Newburgh, NY

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
6.54(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of five previous books: the much-acclaimed memoir Boy Alone; NowTrends; China Syndrome; Standard Deviations; and Speed Tribes. Born in Kobe, Japan, he has lived in Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. He currently lives in Tribeca with his wife, Silka, and their daughters, Esmee and Lola.

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Dr. J: The Autobiography 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Hopps More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend "Dr J. The Autobiography" for any Julius Irving fan as well as any fan of basketball. For basketball fans my age Dr J was one of the first true high flying superstars. I'm a huge fan of Julius Irving but I have to admit that I learned a great deal about him through his autobiography that I was not aware of. Throughout the book Dr J. references the fact that he is not going to sugarcoat the facts. I felt that in telling the story as he did he allows fans to see that yes he was a tremendously gifted athlete but like so many of us he has flaws also. One thing that stood out to me is his insatiable love of basketball and the incredible opportunities that his incredible skills afforded him. The book was a great read in my opinion and if you are a fan I'm sure you will enjoy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book :):):):)::):):)::)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books i have ever read I am always looking for sports autobiographys if u know of one can u please comment it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had such a crush on Dr. J as a kid. It was very interesting to learn about the man not just the star. His life has been through quite a lot of ups and downs but he has such a positive outlook. Nice to see a sports star who is aware of his shortcomings and doesn't shy away from sharing them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grart book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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