cover image Dr. J: The Autobiography

Dr. J: The Autobiography

Julius Erving with Karl Taro Greenfeld. Harper, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-218792-5

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%E2%80%94paving 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%E2%80%94despite a self-acknowledged weakness for women%E2%80%94his 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.)