Two middle-aged retirees playing a game of half-court one-on-one doesn’t exactly sound like an event worthy of pay-per-view television. But when the two guys are basketball legends Julius (Dr. J) Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it’s a whole new jar of jam. Their ”Clash of the Legends” hoopfest appears live from Atlantic City, N.J., Feb. 28 at 9 p.m.
The scoring superstars are keeping mum about any plannes in-flight tactics. ”I’m not at liberty to totally divulge my strategy,” says Erving, whose business partner, Dave Wooley, came up with the idea for this venture. The Abdul-Jabbar line: ”I have to do it all.” Both perennial All-Stars averaged 24 points a game during their NBA careers; Abdul-Jabbar was on six NBA championship teams in his 20 years with the Bucks and the Lakers, while the Doctor claimed the NBA title once in his 16 seasons, with the 79ers in 1983.
The two competitors have been friends for 20 years, and the L.A.-based Abdul-Jabbar has dined often at the Philadelphia home of Erving and his wife, Turquoise — ”thought not since the Clash was announced,” says a joking Dr. J.
At 41, Erving is three years younger than the sky-hook master, but the 7’2” Abdul-Jabbar has a 7-inch height advantage. Other matchups of former NBA stars slated for the show are Nate Archibald vs. George Gervin and Connie Hawkins vs. Rick Barry. The cost of viewing the event is $19/95 ($6 of which goes to AIDS causes).
Both men say they have been training hard. Abdul-Jabbar’s daily two-hour sessions of cardiovascular training and ”working with the ball” sound more impressive than Erving’s three-day-a-week routine with aerobic and weight machines, but the Doctor insists he feels great. One courtside fan who will be betting — but not on the contest — is Abdul-Jabbar’s mom: ”She like to gambe, so she’s coming for the slot machines.”