- Chris Broussard, NBA analyst
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In August, LeBron James created quite a stir by telling Fox Sports that Julius "Dr. J'' Erving is one of the three best players of all-time. But a month later, in an interview with ESPN The Magazine, James said he was misunderstood.
"The conversation was 'Who do I like?' '' James said, clarifying his comments. "Who were my three? Who were my favorite three of all time?' No one knows who's the greatest three players of all time. It's impossible. No one can say who's the best three of all time. You're going to have Jordan there for sure. But after that, you can have Bird, Magic, Kareem, Wilt, Bill Russell, Oscar, Jerry West, Dr. J. You might even throw LeBron in there, maybe.''
James has recently shown his love for Dr. J by paying homage to him in his new ad campaign for Powerade Zero Drops. In promoting Powerade this past summer on Instagram, James posted a photo of himself with a huge Dr. J-style afro while wearing a red, white and blue uniform and Erving's No. 6. The caption read, "Breaking News. DR. J is making a comeback, Let's go!!"
James, who was two years old when Dr. J retired from the Philadelphia 76ers in 1987, said he became such a huge fan of Erving's because of his childhood idol, Michael Jordan.
"As a kid I always heard the name,'' James said. "And being a huge Jordan fan, I always knew Jordan looked up to Dr. J. So I was like, 'Wow, who is Dr. J? If Jordan's saying he aspired to be like this guy, I want to know who it is.' And as I got the opportunity to meet him over All-Star weekend and stuff like that, he's just an unbelievable guy. So you start liking someone like that.''
James switched his jersey number from No. 23 to No. 6 when he joined the Miami Heat in 2010. He has also worn No. 6, the same number Erving wore, while playing for Team USA in the Olympics.
"Doc had something to do with it,'' James said of the number change. "And it coincides with my kids. My youngest son's birthday is in June, the sixth month, and then LeBron Jr. was born on October 6. So that had a lot to do with it.''
James, who wore short shorts like Dr. J in his Instagram photos, said he may pay homage to Erving with another uniform switch as well.
"I'm just wondering how in the heck they played like that,'' James said of the tiny shorts. "I might bring it back, though. I might play in some small shorts this year. Pay my homage to the '80s, to Dr. J and John Stockton. I don't think it's going to catch on, but I'm going to do it one game, maybe opening night. I can't go all the way up (the legs), though. Athletes today are built a little differently in the legs.''