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Julius Erving (True) Rookie Card

With the 12th Overall Pick of the 1st Round in the 1972 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Julius Erving from the University of Massachusetts. Julius Erving has one true rookie card.

Before MJ there was Julius

Once upon a time, before the athleticism and dominance of Michael “Air” Jordan, there was a man who revolutionized the game of basketball, he was a man ahead of his time, his name is Julius Erving!

Growing up in the Chicagoland Region during the ’80s & 90’s I witnessed the era of Michael Jordan first hand. We watched every game for almost a decade and I was convinced that Michael Jordan was the best there ever was.

But then I watched an interview with Michael speaking of Julius Erving and he admittedly claimed that he “tried to emulate Dr. J’s game.”

I thought to myself if Michael Jordan thinks so highly of Dr. J and emulated his game after him, I had to check this guy out. That is one heck of an endorsement.

So I started looking at highlight reels and I noticed the scary similarities between The Doctor and his Airness.

My point. Before Michael there was Julius. He was the complete player, the most athletic, the most dominating force on the court both offensively and defensively.

His leaping ability allowed him to dance in the air on his way to the rim. He packed out arenas as people would come to see his aerial assaults.

The Street Cred of Dr. J

He played in the ABA between 1971-1976 and really made a name for himself as he won just about every award possible in that league.

His street-cred was birthed in the Rucker League in Harlem N.Y. where organized tournaments are offered along with plenty of slam dunks, crossovers, and basketball swag.

Legend has it that people would fill the rooftops, overpasses, and climb trees just to get a glimpse of Dr. J on the court.

Many people have testified that Julius Erving changed the game of basketball. His style was entertaining, he made people feel good, maybe that’s why they called him The Doctor.

But overall he was an ambassador of the game, he carried himself with proper etiquette, he was well-spoken, and presented himself with class and dignity. Today, he is spoken of with reverence and his legacy still inspires.

The ABA/NBA merger landed Julius to the Philadelphia 76er’s and that’s where he played for the next 11 seasons.

Career Stats & Accomplishments

Julius averaged 24.2 Points | 8.2 Rebounds | 4.2 Assist per game. Ranks 8th in All-Time Scoring Leader with 30,026 points.


  • 16x All-Star
  • 2x All-Star MVP
  • 4x League MVP
  • 7x All-NBA
  • 5x All-ABA
  • 1x NBA Champion
  • 2x ABA Champion
  • 1971 All-Rookie
  • 1975 All-Defensive

Professional basketball transitioned from the ABA to the NBA in 1976, Julius Erving was the headline star that helped make that transition. He was a champion in both leagues and was the trailblazer for the next generation of players.

1972-73 Topps, #195 (RC)

This beauty screams, “Pure Vintage Basketball!” Big bold red letters, bright yellow background outlined by a thick black line. Love it! Man, this card is sweet!

Check out the nostalgic ABA League basketball, that early 70s fro with the armpit hair (that I can do without personally.)

One thing to keep in mind with this particular card of Julius Erving, it is notorious for having a printing defect near his left elbow and shouldn’t be taken into consideration when determining value. The hobby and the industry have decided that it will not be held against you.

The card back is a beauty as well. The colors and layout are well-balanced and give us everything a good card back should have from this era: name, player bio, commentary, stats, and my personal favorite the cartoon.

However, I’m not really surprised that his shoe size would be a 15 but that’s okay.

1972 Topps, #255 (RYC)

A feature that most Topps sets offer collectors is subsets. The card pictured above comes from a subset called ABA All-Stars inside the 1972 Topps set.

Oddly enough this subset offers the second card of our featured Hall of Famer Julius Erving inside the 1972 Topps checklist as well. So is this a rookie card of Julius too? You can consider it whatever you’d like.

However, only the first card of the player, within the set, is considered the true RC. This should be viewed as a Rookie-Year Card and carries some weight within the hobby but not as much as card #195 his true rookie card.

This rookie year retro beauty gives us a photo of Julius Erving and his ball-handling skills. Red, white and blue borders to match the Official Basketball of the ABA. The card back offers us a vector image of a basketball player and the stats of Julius’ All-Star Game appearance.

1972 Topps, #263 (RYC)

Surprisingly, there is a third card of Julius Erving featured in the 1972 Topps set! This one features him as a Rebound Leader with 1,319 respectively.

What makes cards like this one desirable among collectors is that Julius is featured with two other NBA Hall of Famers, Artis Gilmore, and Mel Daniels! The card back gives a list of the Top 10 Rebounders from the previous season.

1973 Topps, #240 (PRT)

A current trend for collectors is 2nd-year cards, especially when their priced out of the rookie cards. This is the 2nd year card of Julius Erving that features him by himself.

Your eyes are not going bad, no need to adjust your screen or rub your eyes. The blur is due to bad photography… or perhaps a psychedelic trip went bad. In fact, the overall design seems like someone was smoking something.

What’s up with the floating head right next to his head? In my opinion, it’s so ugly I love it! The card back has lots to offer and the cartoon is absolutely epic. The player bio, stats, and solid commentary bring it all together.


Julius Erving Stats. (accessed October 16, 2018).