Julius Erving was an athlete that was clearly ahead of his time. He brought a flair and athletic ability that was largely nonexistent in 1970's basketball and was one of the biggest stars during his career. Known to most as Dr. J, Erving helped carry the game into the modern era and transformed the sport with his many highlight reel plays. Despite being one of the top players in NBA history, most Julius Erving cards remain reasonably priced.
Although he only spent two seasons playing college basketball, Julius Erving was an unstoppable force at the University of Massachusetts. He left school early, but due to the state of professional basketball, Erving elected to sign with the Virginia Squires of the ABA League, instead of joining the NBA. The Squires would eventually trade their star player to the New York Nets in 1973. Erving would lead his new team to the ABA Title twice, and remained a member of the franchise until the NBA-ABA merger in 1975. While the Nets were one of the ABA teams that made the jump to the NBA, financial implications resulted in the team shipping Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for compensation.
The merger finally brought together the talent from the competing leagues, and Julius Erving emerged as one of the best players in the NBA. With Erving on the court, the Philadelphia 76ers were consistently a top team. Despite regular playoff appearances, the 76ers would not claim their first title until Moses Malone joined the team during the 1982-83 season. Erving would retire following the 1986-87 season and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. He totaled 11 NBA All-Star appearances and an NBA MVP season in 1981-82. Also, Erving was named to the NBA's 35th and 50th Anniversary teams. On top of that, even at 63, some of his ability remains and Erving can still dunk.
Despite all he did and his relevance to the game, most Julius Erving cards from his playing days are not going to break the bank. Among his modern cards, Julius Erving autographs bring the most value and he has signed plenty for Upper Deck since 2000 and was heavily featured in 2012-13 Panini products.
The following list documents ten of the best Julius Erving cards available today. While value is important, the list centers more around the original releases from his playing days, rather than the many low-numbered and rare modern autographs. See any that we missed? Let us know in the comments.
Top 10 Julius Erving Cards
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First on the list, 1977-78 Topps Basketball brings a colorful, yet still low-key Julius Erving card. The card notes Erving as an All-Star and features an image of the star as he takes a breather on the bench.
Although he came well before the insert craze, Julius Irving does have one that makes the list. Falling one per wax pack, 1986-87 Fleer Stickers add an interesting option for collectors. This simple sticker card showcases an older Erving in one of his last cards before he retired.
Fews cards managed to perfectly encompass basketball in the 1970's like 1975-76 Topps Basketball. A large action image paints a clear picture as Erving goes to the basket, while a bright pink team font and text box add vivid colors. Rounding out the cards, "Julius Erving" is highlighted using yellow text and a diagonal stripe with five stars occupies the top corner of the card.
Although the design is not nearly as clean as the 1975-76 card, Erving's 1978-79 Topps Basketball card is another appealing option. Dual images clutter the card but the smaller photo gives collectors a great shot of his large afro.
As his second major release, 1973-74 Topps Basketball brings collectors one of his earliest cards. This Julius Erving card has a lot going on. The moving ball results in a blurry image and the black background has a weird effect on Erving's hair. Additionally, a small headshot of Erving is included in the corner, making for a rather bizarre card.
Rounding out his career, 1986-87 Fleer Basketball arrived just-in-time to send Julius Erving off to retirement in style. The iconic card design is combined with a intense facial expression from Erving as he goes up for a dunk.
One of several options that pair the two greats, 2012-13 Upper Deck All-Time Greats brings on-signatures from Erving and Michael Jordan on the same card. This black-and-white card is hand-numbered to 23 and features gold ink.
Another recent autographed card for Julius Erving, the high-end options in 2012-13 Panini Flawless Basketball have proven to be very popular. This is especially true for autographed patch cards like the Greats insert. With a Hall of Fame player of Julius Erving's magnitude, almost any autograph from the former great would make a great addition to a card collection.
While it is true that Julius Erving is the third wheel on this 1980-81 Topps Basketball card, it is unlikely that the card would be as highly valued if the middle spot was occupied by some average player or no-name rookie. Most collectors know that this was the rookie card for both Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, but it is easily the most valuable and sought-after Julius Erving card.
Although the Hall of Fame trio above trumps Erving's own rookie card in value, this terrific card from 1972-73 Topps Basketball is deserving of the top spot. The clean look, classic design, and vivd colors make for one of the top rookie cards of all-time.