Julius Erving was one of the most exciting athletes I have ever seen, and he deserves much of the credit for the merger of the American and National Basketball Associations in 1976. Known famously as “The Doctor” (as in “the doctor is in the house”), he popularized the dunk that characterizes the power aspects of the pro game today. Many basketball fans, me among them, swear we saw Erving begin a leap from the foul line that resulted in a sweeping arc of a slam through the hoop. If it weren’t for Dr. J, we might not have the wonderfully expressive phrase “slam dunk” to characterize something that looks easier than it really is.
Dr. J was Michael Jordan before Michael, and his star power in the ABA compelled basketball fans to clamor for a merger with the NBA. But like many athletes, magical sports skills do not translate to business skills; and trusting athletes are sometimes easy prey for their hangers on.
We were saddened to learn from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the doctor had failed at golf course ownership. He trusted a friend’s advice and bought a golf club outside Atlanta that included a mortgage in default that he did not know about. After dedicating two years of his life to trying to make his investment work, the golf club, which he had renamed The Celebrity Club, is now in foreclosure. Dr. J. is out $5 million for a club worth an estimated $2 million.
The hope here is that somehow, via good luck or successful lawsuit against the “friend” who misrepresented the value of the golf club, The Doctor will soar again.
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