A new chapter was added to the long-running rivalry between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics this week. During a recent interview with Joy DeAngela, 76ers legend Julius Erving was asked which players crack his All-Time top-10 list. Dr. J surprisingly did not include Celtics great Larry Bird, who he squared off with numerous times throughout the early 1980s.
Erving’s list consisted of the following players, in no order:
- Jerry West
- Oscar Roberston
- Elgin Baylor
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Bill Russell
- Michael Jordan
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Magic Johnson
- Karl Malone
- Nate “Tiny” Archibald
Bird was amongst other notable snubs, such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal.
The Indiana native had a remarkable career in Boston. He spent 13 seasons with the Celtics, leading them to three NBA Championships along the way. Bird was named to 12 NBA All-Star teams and 10 All-NBA teams and won three straight MVP Awards from 1984-86.
After his retirement, his No. 33 was raised to the rafters and he was inducted into the Basketball Hall-of-Fame in 1998 as a player.
Why would Dr. J leave the Boston Celtics legend out of his top 10?
There’s no concrete answer to this one. It’s not like the two guys hated each other or anything. Aside from the famous altercation in 1984, when Erving and Bird got into a fistfight, there’s no evidence of any rift between the greats.
Erving and Bird went head-to-head in the playoffs on four occasions — with each eliminating the other twice. In 1980 and 1982, the 76ers advanced past the Celtics, while in 1981 and 1983 it was Boston that got the better of Philadelphia.
Perhaps Erving feels that he and Bird were on the same level as players and didn’t want to have the Celtics great on his own list, without also having himself.
Dr. J lead the 1983 Philadelphia squad to an NBA title alongside Moses Malone.