Julius Erving told fans gathered on a Roosevelt street corner that he often thought of his hometown while he was away, playing pro basketball.
"You guys don't know how many nights I dreamed of just walking up and down Nassau Road -- the street formerly known as Nassau Road," he said.
That street now bears his name: Julius W. Erving Avenue.
Last month, the Nassau County Legislature renamed a stretch of the road -- from Pleasant Avenue to the Southern State Parkway -- and Thursday the hoops legend, county officials and Roosevelt residents gathered for the unveiling of the new signs.
Erving, nicknamed "Dr. J," was inducted into the Basketball Hall Of Fame in 1993, but he appeared before the crowd of about 200 Thursday as a sentimental Long Islander.
He arrived wearing a Roosevelt High School ball cap and led the crowd in crooning the school song. He graduated in 1968.
The crowd was full of longtime supporters, including Freeport resident Robert Miller, who remembered Erving coming to his Hempstead neighborhood in the early 1970s to hand out game tickets to him and his friends. Erving was playing for the New York Nets at Nassau Coliseum at the time.
Also attending was Erving's former youth basketball coach, Hempstead Village trustee Don Ryan.
"Julius is a tremendous part of this community and the whole Island," Ryan said.
The renaming was overdue, said Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), who pushed for the honor.
"I grew up watching him jump from the foul line," Abrahams said. "He fed my love of basketball."
Erving played in the now-defunct American Basketball Association for the Virginia Squires from 1971 to 1973, and for the New York Nets from 1973 to 1976. He went on to superstardom with the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA from 1976 to 1987.
Fellow Roosevelt native Chuck D, leader of the hip-hop group Public Enemy, said at the unveiling that Erving inspired him growing up.
"Dr. J showed everybody how you should be as a human being," he said.
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