April 1, 2013

Erving on Education

Minuteman basketball great Julius Erving believes in life-long learning

Julius Erving '86, 86G(Hon) will never be forgotten on the UMass Amherst campus. In his two seasons playing for the Minutemen, from 1968 to 1970, he set scoring and rebounding records that still stand today. Off campus, Dr. J's basketball legacy as "the Godfather of Dunk" is now being recalled in a widely shown television commercial that highlights some of his most spectacular plays.

Although he's been busy making public appearances (he sat courtside at this year's NBA All-Star game), acting as a strategic advisor to NBA teams, pursuing business interests, community projects, and charitable work, Erving finds time to encourage college athletes to focus on education to, as he says, "better prepare themselves for the challenges of life and how to be a better citizen in America."

Erving, who returned to school to earn his degree from UMass Amherst's University Without Walls in 1986, recently shared some of his thoughts on education with UMass Amherst magazine. He said:

"Your judgment is sharpened by being in an educational environment. You can make informed, decisions, which is so much better than needing others around you to explain things, but you have the confidence to welcome a second opinion. Education is fundamental to being able to find your happiness in life, to find yourself in life. An educated person is employable. An educated person is capable of employing someone. Education and employment combined lead to empowerment. Plus, the network that you build and the friends that you make are very important."

"I don’t think college should be the best time of your life. I think it should be a dedicated time in which you are preparing yourself for the best times of your life so that you'll be able to receive those things with an understanding of why it happened when it’s happening. Success is so much more gratifying when you’ve ground it out and given it everything."