Skip to main content

"I never forced basketball on any of my kids" - Julius Erving explained why he doesn't teach basketball in his household

The Doctor could also be a teacher, but the pupil must first be eager to learn.
NBA greats Julius Erving and Isiah Thomas during the Slam Dunk Contest at the 2022 NBA All-Star game

Julius Erving

The great Julius Erving was a lot of things. He’s a Hall of Famer, definitely one of the all-time greats, a ferocious dunker, and more importantly, a father. For sure, some may assume that “Dr. J” mentors his kids to become incredible basketball players too. While it is somewhat true, Erving revealed that this wasn’t exactly the case in his household.

The Doctor has one condition

If you think about it, there’s no better way to learn the Xs and Os of the game than from Dr. J. However, the Doctor said he could be a teacher, but only to those pupils who are willing to learn. And that’s not negotiable.

This has been Erving’s philosophy when it comes to his children. Yes, it was inevitable that they would witness how their legendary father did his thing on the court, but they would only get the perk of being taught once they immersed themselves in the game the same way Dr. J did.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Still, Erving doesn’t require his children to have an affinity for his game or basketball as a whole. But once they do, make no mistake, Dr. J will teach them the tricks of the trade.

“You can expose your children to exactly the same things, but they're all going to become different people. That's great, because I don't want them to be me, I want them to be them,” Erving told Esquire in 2017. “I never forced basketball on any of my kids or my nephews. I wanted them to ask to be taught. When you have a willing participant, who says, ‘Please, teach me how to play,’ that's when my eyes light up.”

It’s no walk in the park

While being trained by a legend like Erving is indeed a privilege, the man in question would be the first to admit that achieving greatness is not as easy as it sounds. It’s not something that even the greatest player of all time could preach and teach. It has to be learned and earned.

“It’s difficult to be the top dog, to be the last one standing,” Erving once said of his legacy. “There’s a certain mentality, there’s a certain attitude, there’s a certain sink-or-swim piece to it that sometimes it takes experiencing the loss and figuring it out before you can be successful…. It’s nothing you can assume or take for granted.”

What’s the most important lesson Erving wants us to learn? It’s a good start to have a great teacher, but the rest has to come from you.

January 31, 2023; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James dribbles the ball up court against New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden

Another game, another historic night for LeBron James against the New York Knicks

Last night LeBron James put up another performance for the record books

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and power forward Anthony Davis

Jeanie Buss says the Lakers are built around Anthony Davis; talks about their chances to make the playoffs

Lakers owner and President Jeanie Buss talked about how the team can be optimistic after Anthony Davis’ return to the lineup.

Dwayne Casey & Luka Doncic

“We've seen worse, remember I coached Gary Payton and Kevin Garnett.” - Dwayne Casey downplays Luka Doncic’s exchange with Detroit Pistons’ coaching staff

Luka Doncic engaged in back-and-forth with the Detroit Pistons' bench on Monday, which Dwayne Casey downplayed and even liked

Michael Jordan & Kenny Smith

Kenny Smith reveals when he first knew that Michael Jordan was a special player - "He would just dominate guys"

Smith said he was taken aback by Jordan's work ethic over the summer, and how Jordan could dominate in pick up games with North Carolina's returning NBA alums

Joe Mazzulla

Joe Mazzulla doesn’t seem to care that he will be coaching Team Giannis in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game at all - “Nothing…I don’t care”

Mazzulla doesn't seem to care at all that he will be coaching in the All-Star Game, and his hilariously short responses show his indifference to taking part in the festivities

Kobe Bryant & Baron Davis

Baron Davis shares what happened when he played a random game of 1 on 1 against Kobe Bryant at UCLA

Baron Davis talks about that time he played a random game of 1 on 1 with Lakers legend Kobe Bryant while he was practicing at UCLA

Deni Avdija

Washington Wizards’ Deni Avdija shares an interesting story about his new nickname “Turbo”

After the trade of Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija has thrived in his improved role with the Washington Wizards earning him a new nickname Turbo