NBA 75 Series: #57 George Gervin
As smooth as they come on the court is George “The Iceman” Gervin ranked #57 in my 75 Greatest NBA Players of All Time https://www.djssportsshow.com/post/nba-75-greatest-players-of-all-time. Gervin was born on April 27, 1952 in Detroit, Michigan to his mother Geraldine and father Booker Gervin. Gervin’s parents would separate, leading him to be raised by his mother. Gervin picked up basketball at an early age and immediately fell in love with the game.
He would attend Martin Luther King Jr. high school in Detroit and would struggle his first few years on the court. But, in his senior season of high school he burst onto the national spotlight in large part because of a growth spurt that allowed him to average 31 points and 20 rebounds per game, helping lead his school to the state quarterfinals, and becoming a Detroit Free Press All-State selection in 1970.
Gervin would initially choose to play his college basketball at California State College, Long Beach (now California State University, Long Beach) for the legendary Jerry Tarkanian, but would instead transfer to Eastern Michigan University due to wanting to be closer to home. He would average 29.5 points per game as a sophomore in 1971-72, but would unfortunately get suspended for a season after he elbowed a Roanoke college player, Jay Piccola, in an NCAA national semifinal game, and then knocked him unconscious, causing him to miss the following season.
He would then play in the Continental Basketball Association, where he was spotted by Johnny Kerr, who was the Vice president for the ABA’s (American Basketball Association) Virginia Squires, which would lead to a tryout with Gervin. He signed with the Squires in 1973 for $40,000 a year. He was briefly a teammate on the Squires with another basketball legend in Julius Erving, however they weren’t able to stay together long as the Squires would deal with a plethora of financial problems that would cause them to have to trade Erving and their All-Star center Swen Nater for cash/draft picks.
Gervin would eventually get traded to the San Antonio Spurs for $228,000 on January 30, 1974, due to the Squires' continued financial problems. He would become eligible for the 1974 NBA Draft after two ABA seasons and was get selected in the third round with the 40th pick by the Phoenix Suns, but instead would stick with the Spurs.
As mentioned in the beginning, Gerving would ultimately become known as “The Iceman” because of his silky smooth scoring ability and overall offensive game, Gervin was one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history. His 26.2 points per game average ranks ninth in league history and he’s one of five players in NBA History with four or more scoring titles. Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, and Allen Iverson are the others. Talk about a pure bucket!
During his legendary ABA and NBA playing days, Gervin was known for his signature shot: the finger roll. He was adept at getting it over all types of defenders, regardless of height, size, or jumping ability. During his career, Gervin recorded a remarkable streak of scoring double figures in 407 consecutive games, while also playing in 12 consecutive All-Star Games, including the ABA.
Just look at the elegance, the touch, and the poetic motion of Gervin with this finger roll… just utter brilliance.
He finished second in MVP voting in 1978, which was his highest ever and is one of the best players to never win an MVP. He unfortunately never had much winning success in his hey-day, which knocks him down this list some, but in terms of individual talent, Gervin to me was better than the next two guys I have coming after him.
He is a nine-time NBA All-Star. All-Star MVP (1980), seven-time All-NBA selection, four-time Scoring Champ (1978-80, 1982), along with other ABA accolades. He is one of the coolest players to ever grace an NBA court, and was “The Iceman.”