Throwback Throwdowns: Dr. J Rocks the Baby

Julius Erving acknowledges applause from the public before competition during NBA All-Star Game

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Did you miss us?

Of course you did. How could you not? As fans of the sport of basketball, it’s only natural that you feel a certain sense of excitement when an individual defies gravity and takes on the rim. This is because dunking is awesome. It really is that simple:  a dunk is a show of power, athleticism, and insane swagger. And if we ever find ourselves forgetting the effect this particular kind of play can have on our emotions, we need only look at the responses people had to the recent and unfortunate passing of legendary dunker Darryl Dawkins.

As one of the original power dunkers — and an unrivaled backboard-shattering aficionado — the NBA has ever seen, Dawkins brought joy and happiness every time he flushed the rock. His thunderous jams caused mass hysteria, forcing fans to scratch their heads in disbelief.

Humans shouldn’t be able to do what this guy did — yet, sometimes we find ourselves fortunate enough to be in the presence of greatness. And when it comes to epic slams dunks — and gravity-defying plays in general — very few individuals did it quite like The Doctor.

Throughout his Hall of Fame career, Julius “Dr. J” Erving was part of many unforgettable moments. However, one particular event continues to stand above the rest — the cradle dunk that never seems to get old. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, as Dr. J “Rocks the Baby” on this latest edition of “Throwback Throwdowns.”


The 1982-83 season was big one for the Philadelphia 76ers. Not only did this squad finish the year with a 67-15 record on its way to an eventual NBA championship, but it was also the season this group of individuals got to witness, firsthand, one of the greatest dunks in the history of the game.

On January 5, 1983, the Los Angeles Lakers traveled to Philadelphia for nothing more than a regular season game between two of the league’s more dominant teams. However, this night would prove to be more special than anyone could’ve possibly imagined.

As Philadelphia’s Maurice Cheeks tipped a Magic Johnson pass, the Doctor managed to get to the ball on the left sideline before it went out of bounds. Erving pushed it up the court — past LA’s Michael Cooper — and in one fluid motion, cupped the ball with his right hand, pulled it back, and viciously thundered it home. Cooper went up in the air to try and stop the inevitable, but he could do nothing more than duck his head and get out of the way. No one

As the packed house at The Spectrum roared uncontrollably, you knew something magically had just taken place. The Sixers would go on to win the contest in overtime by a score of 122-120. But let’s be real, there was only one play that folks ever tend to remember: the one where The Doctor “Rocked the Baby.”

All statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.