Kobe Bryant vs. Julius Erving: 5 Days of Black Mamba Birthday Comparisons

Editor's note: Kobe Bryant turns 35 on August 23. To commemorate the Los Angeles Lakers legend's big day, we're seeing how his career stacks up next to five NBA luminaries, be they current Hall of Famers or those in the making. Check out Part 1 here.

Today, in the second of our five-part series, we're pitting Bryant's career against that of Julius "Dr. J" Erving. We're looking at four main factors: career accomplishments, career statistics, off-the-court influence and impact on the game.

Granted, it's inherently unfair to compare Erving to NBA legends who succeeded him.

If you're strictly weighing Erving's NBA accomplishments against those of other all-time greats, you're leaving out some of the best years of the Doctor's basketball-playing career.

Then again, how do you properly account for the way Erving dominated the now-defunct American Basketball Association in the early-to-mid 1970s? Should his statistics from those five years be factored into comparisons with other NBA megastars who didn't ever have such an opportunity?

Let's flesh that out.


Career Accomplishments

It's an understatement to say Dr. J is one of the most accomplished players in the history of professional basketball, as evidenced by the table below.

Upon joining the ABA's Virginia Squires in 1971-72, Erving hit the ground running. He averaged an astounding 27.3 points and 15.7 rebounds per game as a rookie, finishing second to Artis Gilmore in the league's Rookie of the Year voting. (Gilmore also won the ABA's Most Valuable Player award that season).

The next season, Dr. J averaged a career-high 31.9 points per game in his final season with the Squires. The cash-strapped franchise, unable to continue paying Erving at his going rate, opted to trade him to the then-New York Nets following the 1972-73 season.

Erving respond...

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