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Julius Erving predicted the future of the NBA during the 1996 NBA Finals

Dr.J used the '96 Bulls to describe what the NBA would look like in the 21st century. And he was spot on.
How Julius Erving mentored Michael Jordan to build a brand empire

Julius Erving

The Chicago Bulls from the mid-’90s is perhaps one of the greatest teams ever assembled, especially when you consider how dominant they were during that time. They were a great group of talented players who played phenomenal team basketball, which made them invincible, especially in the NBA Finals. In some ways, there were also pioneers of the game we’re seeing today because of their extreme popularity that influenced the upcoming generation of players we see now.

Dr.J predicts the future

NBA legend Julius Erving, who served as a commentator during the NBA Finals back in 1996, was one of the first ones who recognized the immense influence the Bulls were having on the game itself. Having Michael JordanScottie PippenDennis Rodman, and some of the best international players like Toni Kukoc on your team were, in his mind, a recipe for success.

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It’s often forgotten that the Bulls didn’t really have a great center in a league dominated by some of the best big men in NBA history. The Bulls had guys who could play several positions simultaneously, and their versatility on both ends of the floor was a crucial advantage against other teams. The international players they had on their team also added value by bringing something new to the game.

"One of the things you need to consider when you talk about this Bulls team is that all year long they've been giving the fans of the basketball world a glimpse of the future what the NBA is going to be about in the 21st century. It's going to be an international league, and they have 2 or 3 best American players on their team. They have the best player ever playing from Croatia, and they have the best player coming from Australia, so we're getting a sneak preview what it's going to be like in the 21st century."

Julius Erving

The evolution of the game

The NBA league evolved in that sense when you are looking back at it from today’s perspective. NBA’s popularity grew over the past two decades, and today almost thirty percent of players in the NBA are from all over the world. Many of them are also the best players on their teams, and this trend will definitely increase in the coming up years. 

The Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan are one of the reasons for the rise in popularity, while on the other hand, the NBA management did an outstanding job promoting their players and product.


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