Julius Erving “Dr. J” Rookie Cards
The card most collectors think of as the Julius Erving rookie is the 1972-73 Topps card #195. However, that set contains a few other cards that can fairly be considered Dr. J’s rookie card as well. In this post I will discuss those cards and a few other important vintage Julius Erving “Dr. J” cards.
1972-73 Topps Julius Erving card #195
The Julius Erving “Dr. J” 1972-73 Topps rookie card #195 is one of the most valuable basketball cards of the 1970s. One of the many things that makes this card interesting and unique is that Erving is playing for the Virginia Squires of the ABA. Erving spent his first five seasons in the ABA and is regarded as the greatest ABA player in history because he won three ABA MVP awards in just five seasons. After moving to the NBA Erving won another MVP award, making him the only player in history to win an ABA and an NBA MVP award.
Dr. J played with a high-flying style and is remembered for his epic slam dunks. Early in Michael Jordan’s career he was compared to Erving for his similar above-the-rim style of play. Any rookie card of a high-scoring Hall of Fame player would be valuable, but there are other factors that make the Julius Erving “Dr. J” rookie card especially sought after by collectors.
Other factors that make this card iconic:
- One of Sports Most-Famous Nicknames: Julius Erving is memorable for his great play, but he also has one of the most iconic nicknames in sports history. Much like Magic Johnson, Erving was better known by his nickname than his real name. As silly as it might sound, having an iconic nickname keeps Dr. J relevant to and remembered by collectors long after his playing days are over.
- YouTube Immortality: Many Hall-of-Fame players are eventually forgotten after they retire. The cards of those who are remembered are the ones that see soaring values. Julius Erving “Dr. J” was a human highlight reel during his playing days. Because of this, there are a lot of YouTube videos chronicling the must-see plays of his career. With a less exciting style, younger collectors wouldn’t have access to look back on Dr. J’s amazing career, but because of his electric play, they do.
- Legitimized a League: A lot of basketball historians credit Julius Erving for legitimizing the ABA. Before the start of his career, the NBA was perceived to be the better league, but the star power of Erving help change that narrative. Many people believed that he was the best basketball player in either league and that helped raise the profile and improve the reputation of the ABA.
1972-73 Topps Basketball Set Details
The 1972-73 Topps basketball set is another colorful and classic Topps set indicative of this period. The set includes both NBA and ABA cards, but the majority is NBA. Cards 1-176 (176 cards) are NBA players and cards 177-264 feature ABA players (87 cards). The set includes several subsets including all-star, leaders, and championship cards for both leagues. The marquee card of the set is the Julius Erving “Dr. J” rookie card #195, but this set also includes several other Hall of Fame players including rookie cards for Artis Gilmore #180, Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson #32.
- Manufacturer: Topps
- Year(s) Issued: 1972-73
- Number Cards: 265
- Card Size: 2 1/2″ wide x 3 1/2″ high (standard)
- NBA All-Stars 161-170
- ABA All Stars #259-264
- NBA Leaders 171 – 176
- ABA Leaders #259-264
- NBA Championship – 154-159
- ABA Championship – 249-258
1972-73 Topps Julius Erving card #195 Card Details
- Card no: 195 of 265
- Name on card: Julius Erving
- Position: Center
- Height: 6′ 6″
- Weight: 200
- School: Massachusetts
- Born: 02/22/50
- Home: Roosevelt, New York
Front of the card
Design: The front of the 1972-73 Topps Julius Erving card #195 is a sharp design that continues Topps’ great use of color in this era of basketball cards. The card has a white border with a thick black outline that frames the photo. The image of Erving shows him taking a shot with the iconic red white and blue ABA basketball in front of a solid yellow background. He’s wearing his Virginia Squires uniform with the number 32. He wore the number 32 jersey throughout his ABA career but switched to number 6 when he joined the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.
The Squires team name is below the photo but inside the black border with the letters getting larger from left to right. His name and position, forward, are at the bottom of the card in blue lettering just below the team name. As you’ll see below, the card has a different position for Dr. J on the back. Rest assured, Julius Erving was a small forward during his basketball career — so the front of the card gets it right.
Shop for the 1972-73 Topps Julius Erving rookie card #195 on eBay (affiliate link), because this is the most sought-after Dr. J rookie.
Back of the card
The back of the Design: The back of the 1972-73 Topps Julius Erving card #195 has a basic and boxy layout on gray cardstock. The top of the card has a blue band that has the card number (#195), the name (Julius Erving), and his position (Center). It’s important to note, the position on this card is not correct. The front of the card correctly lists Julius Erving as a forward. This is an uncorrected error – meaning a version of the card with the correct position was not made.
Below the blue band is an orange box that lists his height, weight, school, birthday, home, and a biographical blurb. Below that box is a cartoon of a player who has extremely large feet dribbling a basketball. The text next to it reads, “Julius wears size 15 sneakers.” The bottom of the card has statistics from his rookie year where Erving averaged 27.3 points in 84 games.
The copyright line on this card reads 1970 even though it was released in 1972. This was common for basketball cards of this era so collectors do not seem to be confused by it.
Julius set ABA playoff marks for most 2-point field goals made in one game from 21 vs Floridians. 4-4-72, for best rebounding average with 224 in 11 games for 20.4, and he also tied Roger Brown’s record of 53 points in one game, vs. Floridians 4-4-72. Was All-ABA 2nd team.1972-73 Topps Julius Erving #195
Julius Erving “Dr. J” Rookie Card Value
The 1972 Julius Erving “Dr. J” rookie card is one of the most valuable basketball cards made in the 1970s. The chart below was pulled from the popular card grading site PSA on 10/19/2021. It shows prices for the Julius Erving rookie card in various conditions.
Keep in mind that prices fluctuate. While PSA is a great way to find out the value of a card, we recommend going to eBay to see what cards are currently selling for on the world’s most popular auction site. Click here to view current auctions for the 1972-73 Julius Erving rookie card #195
Other Relevant Julius Erving Cards
The 1972-73 Topps #195 card is the one most collectors think of as a “Dr. J” rookie, but there are other cards that can fairly be considered rookie cards. Let’s discuss those, one that is mistaken for a rookie, and one that is a cool “first” card for Erving:
1972-73 Topps Julius Erving ABA All-Star #255
The 1972-73 Topps Julius Erving ABA All-Star card #255 is from the same set as his more popular Topps rookie card #195, but is less valuable and sought after by collectors. However, it’s still an excellent card to own and features a photo that is as cool as any “Dr. J” card.
Shop for the Topps All-Star Julius Erving “Dr. J” card #255 on eBay (affiliate link), because this is an affordable rookie with a fantastic photo.
1972-73 Topps ‘1971/1972 Rebound Leaders” #263
The ‘1971/1972 Rebound Leaders card #263 is also from the same set as the more popular Topps #195 card. Some collectors do not count a leader’s card as a rookie, but it’s from his rookie year and it’s just as scarce as the solo card. It’s also relatively inexpensive and cool because most rookies didn’t do well enough in their first year to be featured on a leader’s card.
Shop for the 1972-73 Topps ‘1971/1972 Rebound Leaders’ card #263 on eBay (affiliate link), because this is the most affordable rookie.
1973-74 Topps “ABA 1972-73 Scoring Average Leaders” #234
The 1973-74 Topps “ABA 1972-73 Scoring Average Leaders” card #234 honors the three players who had the highest per-game scoring average the previous year. The card says “1972-73” on the front, but it was part of the 1973-74 Topps basketball set and is not a rookie card.
Shop for the 1973-74 Topps ‘1972-73 Scoring Average Leaders’ card #234 on eBay (affiliate link), because it’s affordable and has two other Hall of Fame players.
1977-78 Topps Julius Erving “Dr. J” #100
The 1977-78 Topps Julius Erving card #100 was produced several years after “Dr. J’s” rookie card, but we think it’s significant enough to mention for a different reason. This card was the first Topps card with Erving as a member of an NBA team. In 1976 the Philadelphia 76ers purchased his contract from the New York Nets for a price of about $6 million. The 76ers got one of the franchise’s greatest players, but the transaction is considered the worst deal in Nets history.
Shop for the 1977-78 Topps Julius Erving “Dr. J” card #100 on eBay (affiliate link), then you’ll own his first 76ers card.
Julius “Dr. J” Erving’s Legacy
Julius Erving “Dr. J” is regarded as one of the most exciting players in professional basketball history because of his high-flying offensive style. Before he turned pro the ABA was considered a lower-tier league than the NBA, but that changed when “Dr. J” arrived. After winning three ABA MVP awards he was able to transition to the NBA and remained an All-Star and even won an NBA MVP award for the 1980-81 season. This earned him a unique spot in basketball history because no other player earned an MVP award in both leagues.
- 2 time ABA Scoring Leader (1973-74, 1975-76)
- 3 time ABA Points Per Game Leader (1972-73, 1973-74, 1975-76)
- 1 time Offensive Rebounds Leader (1971-72)
- 16 time All-Star
- 1 time NBA Champion
- 2 time ABA Champion
- 5 time All-ABA (1973-74, 1975-76)
- 7 time All-NBA (1982-83)
- 2 time NBA All-Star game MVP (1977, 1983)
- 4 time MVP (1973-74, 1974-75, 1975-76, 1980-81)
- Inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993
Get Your Bill Julius Erving “Dr. J” Rookie
Do you want to add a 1972-73 Julius Erving “Dr. J” rookie to your collection? If so, we recommend starting your search on eBay – the world’s #1 card trading place. Even if you’re not planning to buy one just yet, it’s fun to look at all the great cards currently for sale.
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