When asked about who was the best player he ever played against, Julius Erving didn’t hesitate for a second.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was always in the way. I just think that if I were going to start a franchise, he’s the guy I would start with. I would probably pick him as an ideal teammate.Julius Erving, The Old Man and The Three
During the 80s, before the Lakers continued their rivalry with the Celtics, they first had to go through the Sixers. Two teams met in the Finals three times in four years, from ’80 to ’83, and Kareem and Magic Johnson led the purple and gold to two championships over the stretch. P.S. here’s an iconic moment from their first Finals series.
The only time the 76ers were crowned champions over those four years was after a series sweep in ’83, with Moses Malone winning the Finals MVP. One could argue Philadelphia faced prime Kareem only in the ’80 NBA Finals. However, Erving still saw him as the decisive factor that deprived him of winning more championships during his tenure in the association.
Moses used to eat him up. He would always say, ‘Kareem never outplayed me 1-on-1.’ But the game wasn’t 1-on-1. They both played 20 some odd years, so he would probably be the guy if I were going to start my franchise. I have to acknowledge him as the best player that I played against.Julius Erving, The Old Man and The Three
Kareem’s individual dominance and versatility on both ends of the floor, coupled with almost unprecedented longevity, make Kareem the best player Erving had to go up against. Reading between the lines, Dr. J would also probably single him out as one of the most underrated All-Time greats ever.
Regardless of Kareem “always being in the way,” Julius isn’t the one to hide his respect for the NBA’s all-time leader in points. That’s why Dr.J might be the classiest of all class acts in NBA history.