Julius Erving could hardly contain his excitement when Doc Rivers was announced as the 76ers’ new head coach.
“I fell out of my chair! I was like, ‘Whoa! Man, that’s awesome,’” Erving said. “I am amped – absolutely – that he is the coach of the Sixers.”
The next question, naturally, was about nicknames.
Could there be room for two “Docs” in Sixers territory?
Doctor J’s answer was simple:
“I’m very cool with that. Very cool.”
Erving says he’s more than willing to share the “Doc” title with Rivers (who got his nickname at a Marquette University basketball camp while wearing a “Doctor J” t-shirt):
“The fact that I became ‘Doctor J,’ and he’s ‘Doctor G’ – ‘Doctor Glenn’ – that’s how we’re going to have to do it in Philadelphia,” Erving said.
“You know, there were a lot of ‘Docs’ before me. Let’s keep the J out there, and let’s keep the G out there, because there are so many ‘Docs’ throughout the world, and we’ve got to give them their props too.”
It’s not the first time these two Docs will be tied to the same franchise. Erving was a senior vice president with the Orlando Magic when Rivers began his NBA head coaching career in Orlando over two decades ago.
“[Doc Rivers] was getting his feet wet, and we got a chance to get to know one another pretty well – spending some time out on the golf course and a lot of time in the gym with the guys,” Erving said.
From Rivers’ earliest days as a head coach, Erving saw a fighting spirit:
“[Doc Rivers is] a guy who’s not afraid. I think he made it as a player because of his drive and his determination, as well as his talent. He’s not afraid to succeed, so when the big moment comes, I think he’ll do his part.”
The speed between Rivers hitting the job market and getting swooped up by the Sixers – a matter of days – wasn’t lost on Erving.
“I think for him to be available, and for the decision to be made so quickly, it was a no-brainer to get him in.”
Doctor J believes Doctor G can help this group of Sixers realize their potential:
“The ultimate goal is the Sixers trying to win a championship. Doc has been there. I think he’s going to provide the right type of leadership and decision-making that will get the Sixers over the hump.”