NBA legend Julius “Dr. J” Erving recently delved into his feelings of being overshadowed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar throughout his career, shedding light on the impact of their dynamic on his journey in professional basketball.

Erving candidly shared his perspective on why he always felt he was in Abdul-Jabbar’s shadow, tracing back to their early encounters on the court and the aura surrounding Abdul-Jabbar’s legacy.

“I wasn’t really afraid of anybody..but I always felt as though I was in Kareem’s [Abdul-Jabbar] shadow,” Erving recounted on “The Big Podcast with Shaq” Presented by Playmaker HQ, reminiscing about their first meeting at Reese Park, where Abdul-Jabbar’s presence loomed large even in casual encounters.

“When I left school after my junior year, he had just left UCLA because he was two years ahead of me. And we met over at Reese Park. I went over there with some of my guys from my town and they said, Kareem’s down there or Lou Alcindor…So that particular day he had a dashiki on, so he wasn’t playing no basketball. I went over and introduced myself. He said, ‘yea, I heard about you…I’m not playing today, but I’ll probably see you down the road in the NBA…,” Dr. J continued.

Reflecting on their initial meeting, Erving recalled a moment at Reese Park where he introduced himself to Abdul-Jabbar, who was then known as Lou Alcindor, setting the stage for their parallel paths in basketball.

“There was a five-year period in which I was pretty much dominating in the ABA but I was still kind of in his shadow….He was considered to be the number one player,” Erving explained. “So I was like, ‘I’m going to get my chance,’ and then first time we played them in the finals…in 80 and in 82 we played Los Angeles in the finals and they beat us.”

Despite his success in the ABA, Erving expressed his frustration at consistently playing second fiddle to Abdul-Jabbar, especially during their finals matchups where Abdul-Jabbar’s teams emerged victorious.

“I said, ‘I’m going to be in this motherf*cker shadow all the rest of my life,” Erving recalled. “Then we got big Moses [Malone] and we beat them in four straight, four, four, four. I was just relieved like a brick was over my head trying to hit me and it went the other way.”