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Original Issue

What's up, Doc?

A hoops legend tells his story

Julius Erving is the rare old-timer (he may not look it, but he's 63) who can spin a yarn that's worth telling. Blessed with exceptional recall and a canny eye for detail, Dr. J has also lived a remarkable life, dealing with the pitfalls that so often accompany fame. Dr. J: The Autobiography, co-authored with Karl Taro Greenfeld, is written in simple but powerful prose in the present tense, making it read like a transcript of what you'd get if, at a dinner party, you said, "Doc, tell me about the time.... " (Describing his days with the ABA's Virginia Squires, who practiced in a Jewish community center, he writes: "[E]very morning, a half-dozen of the tallest brothers Norfolk has ever seen walk past the old men and ladies playing pinochle and take to the court.") Off the court, the stories range from kiss-and-tell to frank revelations about the death of his drug-addicted son and the effect that having a child with another woman had on Erving's marriage. The book is quite an accomplishment: a terrific memoir by a man worthy of one.