Skip to main content

Kevin McHale remembers his first game against 'DR.J' 'He is one of the best players who ever played.'

erving vs mchale copy

One of the most underrated rivalries in NBA history is between Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, which had several great playoff battles in the '80s. Both teams went head to head in multiple Eastern Conference Finals, and those games looked like a battlefield with a lot of physical play that is nowhere to be found in today's NBA.

The biggest stars for the 76ers were Julius 'Dr.J' Erving, Andrew Toney, Moses Malone, while for the Boston Celtics, it was Larry Bird alongside Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish. Both truly legendary teams with a lot of great and talented players.

In a recent show by Yahoo Sports called 'Rivals Reunited,' both McHale and Erving had the opportunity to meet again and talk about their old rivalry. McHale remembered his first game against Erving in his rookie season and how excited he was in having the opportunity to go up against a player he looked up to before coming to the NBA. Because of the rivalry between these two teams, older players on the Celtics told him not to shake Erving's hand.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

My first time playing against you, guys knew I was excited playing against you, and they were like, hey rookie, don't go up and shake Doc's hand or anything like that, they are the enemy. I loved the challenge of guarding you.

Kevin McHale, via Rivals Reunited

Despite being an already outstanding two-way player with an incredible wingspan, McHale switched on Erving on defense, which meant he is in a lot of trouble. Everyone knows Erving loved going to his right, and that didn't stop him from man-handling McHale and dunk on him as a rookie, which is something he remembers still to this day.

M.l. Carr tells me you gotta make him go left. And I said, ok, I will make him go left, but he goes right, and I was playing pretty far on your right hand, but he came back and dunked on me. I came over to the bench, and Carr says it wasn't supposed to be easy; I just said you need to make him go left. He is one of the best players who ever played.

Kevin McHale, via Rivals Reunited

Erving and McHale had the opportunity to meet on multiple occasions after McHale's rookie season, and they both experienced some truly legendary games and moments between the two teams. Even though these two squads disliked each other a lot, the respect between them is real.

Paul Westhead, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers

“When you try to reign in a 22-year-old elite athlete from pushing himself to be his best, you’re going to get conflict.” — Kareem weighs in on the Magic vs. Westhead issue

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar walked down memory lane and shared his take on the issue between Magic Johnson and Paul Westhead back in the day.

Utah Jazz guard John Stockton and Earl Watson

”He got real chest hair coming out of his jersey” — Earl Watson recalls when John Stockton took him to school

Earl Watson came up with a counter against John Stockton's tendencies. Little did he know that the Utah Jazz had one move to counter his counter.

Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone and Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley

“I have Charles Barkley’s attitude, and my inside game is as powerful as his and Karl Malone’s” — when an NBA rookie boasted about his game

In 1993, Rodney Rogers generated quite a buzz when he claimed that he was a better version of Charles Barkley and Karl Malone.

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and center DeAndre Ayton

“A lot of times guys don’t accept that very well” — Antonio Daniels defends Chris Paul from fans and players criticizing his leadership

Antonio Daniels admires it, Kenyon Martin not so much - Chris Paul's controversial leadership style isn't for everyone.

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh, Lebron James and guard Dwyane Wade

“We knew that some of the hate was because of our skin color” — Dwyane Wade says the hatred for the Heatles was racially motivated

Wade compared their treatment to Larry Bird's Big 3 in Boston, Michael Jordan's in Chicago and Magic Johnson's in Los Angeles.