The story of how I got to meet Dr. J

It was a true honor to meet Dr. J, shake his hand and get his autograph.

It was a true honor to meet Dr. J, shake his hand and get his autograph.

Several weeks ago I found out too late about a Stevie Nicks signing at a Barnes & Noble in LA. That devastated me because I love Fleetwood Mac and she’s my favorite. However that day, I also found out that Julius Erving would be signing his new autobiography a couple weeks later. I knew for sure that I could not miss it.

For these kind of events, it’s actually free. Of course, you have to pay a price for waiting in line and buying the book to sign. But other than that, it’s a pretty great deal.

I woke up at 6AM this morning to make sure that I was in line when the store opened at 9AM to get a wristband that secured a signed copy of the book. 6AM is early but if you understand LA traffic, it was the right call. I actually got to the shopping are at The Grove at around 7:15AM. There was no line so I got a coffee and walked around. When I returned, a small line started to form about a half hour after and I lined up.

While in line, I got some good reading done. By the time the bookstore opened, there were probably a little less than 100 people behind me. I could have showed up later, but I wanted to be near the front of the line so I got priority of the signing.

Rules of book signings are different every time. This one for Dr. J said that he can only sign his new book with no personalizations. I could, however, have him sign up to 10 copies of the book. I only needed one and a couple friends asked me for one. So I bought three. What was great about this purchase was that they had a half off sale on the book. And since I had a 25% coupon, I just applied that to one of the books. What a deal!

Now that I got the book and a wristband that identified my place in line when I returned for the signing at 2PM, I had nothing else better to do. I returned to my car, slept a little, then woke up and browsed the bookstore. I got hungry so I went across the street to the K-Mart and they had a Nathan’s Hot Dog place there. I love Nathan’s and haven’t had one since I lived in New York. It was great.

I returned to the bookstore with my books a little after one and found my place in line among the “Group A” people since I was one of the first in line. It would be about 30 minutes into the signing when my turn came up.

When Erving entered the area, he received cheers and took some publicity photos. The rules stated that no photographs with him were allowed, but he did it anyway. He joked with people in line, especially a guy wearing a Jordan jersey. “Why are you wearing a Jordan jersey to my signing?” he asked with a grin.

When it was my turn in line, he thanked me for showing up and supporting his book. I shook his hand and he obliged to take a photo with me. He also didn’t just scribble his signature. He actually made sure that he wrote it with the detail that he always does.

Prior to the signing, Erving was with ESPN doing more promotion for his book, so I knew that he might have been tired. But I sensed that he was truly enthusiastic about the book signing. He was delightful and made sure everyone got what they needed.

It’s one thing to see old highlights of him above the rim or just see him talk basketball on TV. But to actually meet him, an idol in my foundation of being a basketball fan, and to see how good he is as a person, I am very glad I got to experience this day. He truly is a legend in every way possible.

After I left the store, smiling like a little kid who just got a new PS4, I pulled out my phone and rewatched the following clip over and over again. The most beautiful play ever seen on a basketball court. He’s a good doctor.

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