Thursday, November 25, 2010

Phiadelphia Magazine: A Hack Reporter Tries To Destroy Dr. J (2003)

Former NBA All Star Julius "Dr.J" Erving:
(This is the case of a hack journalist--Bob Huber--who "caught feelings" when he tried to back former NBA great Julius Erving into a corner, after Julius refused to ask questions about his private life. This October 2003 feature story for Philadelphia Magazine, is Huber's thin, sophomoric attempt to recreate Gay Talese's 1968 Esquire Magazine piece, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold". Huber misses the mark, and instead, he pens a desperately malicious hatchet job. Huber even goes as far as trying to manipulate Julius's ex-wife, Turquoise, to get information he couldn't get out of Julius. One interesting tid-bit: Turquoise may have finally given solved a long standing mystery surrounding the real reason the late Teddy Pendergrass crashed his Rolls-Royce that night with his transvestite passenger, John "Tenika" Watson. That is, if Bob Huber did not embellish this account.)

A tap on my passenger window. 

Julius gets in next to me, she gets in back, behind him. “There's a change of plans,” Erving says.

He doesn't introduce us, I turn to say hello: young, lovely, a dusting of color like cinnamon. “Let's drive back to the Academy House” — where he has a condo, where I picked him up at noon to start a day of driving him all over attending to the task of being Julius Erving. “We're going to meet a car there.”

We head into town. I brought him to the Marriott — what? Three hours ago. He said he was getting a little service, wanted to change clothes, that he'd be down in 40 minutes. We were going to go to a party on Delaware Avenue, the follow-up to a basketball exhibition in West Philly in memory of his drug-troubled son Cory, who died three years ago down in Orlando when he drove his car into a retaining pond.

Now the woman leans forward to talk to Julius — 53 years old, a grandfather, his hair gone mostly write — on the far side of his headrest. Not for privacy, just to get close, to be near, to argue playfully about nothing, Julius volleying with a sporty mind-fuck — “You know I'm right because I said what you thought I said when you said …”

His mood has shifted, gotten lighter. Driving to the Marriott, he asked me, “Do you think I should coach the Sixers?” A startling question — not because it was actually on his plate, given that the team hadn't even contacted him, but because Julius Erving was wondering out loud what to do with his life. He was leaving the Orlando Magic, a mutual decision after six years of an increasingly nebulous PR vice presidency. He does not know what he's going to do next, or, for that matter, where he's going to live.

(Click here to read the full story on the Philadelphia Magazine website.)

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