In a career filled with spectacular plays and memorable moments, one play by Julius Erving stands out as equal to, if not greater than, all the rest.

Julius Erving flies in
for his famous move
in the 1980 Finals.


It came during the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the 1980 NBA Finals, when Erving's Philadelphia 76ers were battling the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers had won two of the first three, and the Sixers needed a win at home to even the series.

Game 4 was close into the fourth quarter, when Erving scored on a drive that anyone who saw it will never forget. He started with the ball on the right side, guarded by Mark Landsberger, a slow-footed but burly Laker forward. Erving used his quickness to beat Landsberger to the baseline and rose toward the rim, a layup or dunk in his sights.

Suddenly, Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stepped into Erving's path, determined to block the shot or foul while trying. Dr. J, already in the air, shifted his body away from Abdul-Jabbar, a movement that took him behind the backboard and seemingly out of position to make a play. But as he hung in the air and glided past Abdul-Jabbar, Erving slid his body just enough to the left so that he could reach his long right arm back toward the basket and somehow score on a reverse layin.

The crowd was stunned into silence before erupting in cheers. The Lakers simply were stunned.

"Here I was, trying to win a championship, and my mouth just dropped open," said Lakers guard Magic Johnson, then a rookie. "He actually did that! I thought, 'What should we do? Should we take the ball out, or should we ask him to do it again?' It's still the greatest move I've ever seen in a basketball game, the all-time greatest."

Erving's basket helped the Sixers pull out a 105-102 victory, but the Lakers went on to win the Finals in six games.