- Associated Press - Thursday, October 27, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Julius Erving has denied an upcoming auction of his personal basketball memorabilia collection is tied to a lawsuit filed against him by a Georgia bank.

Known on the hardwood as Dr. J, Erving tells The Associated Press on Wednesday he’s never been a “hoarder or collector,” and plans to donate a portion of the auction proceeds to the Salvation Army. Erving’s auction collection includes his 1983 NBA championship ring with the Philadelphia 76ers, a pair of ABA championship rings with the New York Nets, and MVP trophies from each league.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Erving owes more than $200,000 on a loan with Georgia Primary Bank, according to a lawsuit filed in Fulton Superior Court.

The lawsuit was reported only hours after SCP Auctions announced that bidding would be open to registered bidders on Friday for many of Erving’s championship rings, important awards and game-used items. The timing of Tuesday’s announcements led to speculation that Erving, voted one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players, was hocking goods because the Hall of Famer needed cash.

Not true, he said.

“That irony actually gave me a sleepless night last night,” he said. “I had to laugh at it and cringe at it that these stories would run concurrent with one another.”

The 61-year-old Erving said the auction was part of a long-planned celebration of his career. He said most of his cherished possessions were in storage and that he rarely looked at his collection. He said he occasionally wore his 1983 ring and never his ABA rings. Erving said he will keep his Hall of Fame ring. His induction into the Hall of Fame came in 1993.

“My family is 100 percent behind it,” he said. “We decided to do it a long time ago. To claim it’s a firesale or to clear up some debt, I don’t think so. You don’t do an auction overnight. This has been long planned. We had 4,000 catalogs that have been mailed already to people who buy this kind of stuff.”

Be prepared to spend. Dr. J’s goods don’t come cheap. Items available at http://www.scpauctions.com include:

_ 1969-70 game-worn UMass jersey. Minimum bid: $15,000.

_ 1974 New Jersey Nets ABA championship ring. Minimum bid: $20,000

_ 1975-76 ABA MVP trophy. Minimum bid: $10,000.

_ 1983 Philadelphia 76ers NBA championship ring. Minimum bid: $25,000.

Yes, even a pair of game-worn Converse sneakers customized for the cult classic, “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh,” are available for a minimum bid of $500.

Just don’t expect to soar through the air like Dr. J.

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