words // Brandon Richard
Before Michael, Magic and Larry, there was Julius "Dr. J" Erving, the afro-bearing high flyer that revolutionized the game in the 70s and 80s. One of basketball's first true superstars, Erving is often credited with taking the slam dunk mainstream, as it had previously been seen as "unsportsmanlike" in some circles.
Following the ABA/NBA merger in 1976, Erving signed an endorsement deal with shoemaker Converse, making him the first pro basketball player to officially endorse a sneaker. He primarily put his stamp on the revolutionary Pro Leather, also known as "The Dr. J," still one of the company's most popular silhouettes today. Erving would continue to wear Converse throughout the remainder of his playing career, including a championship run with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983.
You may also remember a 19-year old North Carolina freshman by the name of Mike Jordan wearing a team make-up of the model when he hit the game-winning shot in the 1982 NCAA National Title Game.
Today, the legendary Dr. J celebrates his 63rd Birthday, which we acknowledge by sharing with you this vintage ad. Pulled from a 1977 publication, the clip features the hoop icon and his classic leather-based pro model.
Happy Birthday, Doc!