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Julius Erving pulled off one of the most memorable drives in basketball history during the 1980 Finals.
Jim Cummins/NBAE/Getty Images

Dr. J shocks Lakers, fans with improbable move

Posted Mar 4 2013 4:22PM

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.

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 lay-in.

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.

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