Dr. J documentary to premiere Monday night on NBA TV

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The doctor will be in the house at 8 p.m. Monday when NBA TV premieres a 90-minute documentary chronicling the life of basketball icon Julius “Dr. J” Erving.

The Doctor reveals many of the challenges Erving faced, including the death of his father when he was 9 years old, the death of his younger brother when he was 19, and the death of his son, Cory, who drowned in 2000 after driving his vehicle into a pond.

One of the first athletes to transcend sports and one of its prominent role models, Erving was popular among his contemporaries in any sport. He was very cognizant of his worldwide appeal.

“You never know who’s watching, so you can do one of two things,” said Erving, who averaged 24.2 points and 8.5 rebounds for his career. “You can assume everybody’s watching, or you can just take the attitude that you really don’t care who’s watching and who’s not, because you’re in the moment and you’re doing what you’re going to do regardless.

“So I’ve kind of always liked to assume there are a lot of eyes — particularly young people — on any professional athlete once they start to get on the big stage, once they have a platform.”

Now 63, Erving played in the American Basketball Association from 1971 until it merged with the NBA in 1976 in one of the most anticipated unions in pro sports. Incredibly, Erving was chosen to the All-Star team every year of his 16-year professional career, five times in the ABA and 11 years in the NBA.

Erving was the only player to win Most Valuable Player honors in both the ABA and the NBA. He captured the award with the ABA’s New York Nets in 1974, ’75 and ’76, and again with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers in 1981.

The documentary covers plenty about Erving’s life before and after his pro basketball career, which includes his winning ABA titles in ’74 and ’76, and an NBA championship with the Sixers in ’83.

“You always go into a project like this with an outline and a plan,” said Dion Cocoros, the vice president and executive producer of NBA TV Originals. “But the beauty of telling any story is kind of letting it evolve.

“As you can see in the film we went out and got so many people that are part of [Erving’s] life story and then they tell you things that might take you down a different path.

“So that’s kind of like the beauty of putting a production like this together, is it’s kind of an evolving process.”

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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