When the NBA in the 70’s and 80’s is mentioned, most think about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Dr. J, possibly even Bill Walton before George Gervin comes to mind. Before Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, and David Robinson, George Gervin was the face of the Spurs. “The Iceman” was a pioneer of basketball with his creative, silky smooth style of play. Similarly to how Hakeem Olajuwon had the dream shake, Kareem had the sky hook, and Manu Ginobili had the euro step, Gervin popularized the finger roll. Although rarely recognized as one of the greatest scorers ever, Gervin certainly was, he averaged 25.1 points per game for his career while leading the league in scoring in 4 separate seasons. In the 1979-80 season, Gervin averaged 33.1 points per game while in 1981-82, he averaged 32.3 points per game which is comparable with players who man fans have on their top scorers of all time list such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Gervin is a 6 foot 8 Small Forward/Shooting Guard who hails from Detroit, Michigan. He was widely unknown in high school until he had a growth spurt during his junior and senior years. In college, Gervin was a great player, averaging 29.5 points as a sophomore in 1971-72, but he was later suspended and removed from the team after punching an opposing player. After this, Gervin started his professional playing career for the Pontiac Chaparrals of the Continental Basketball Association, where he was spotted by a scout of the Virginia Squires of the ABA. George signed with the Squires later on, playing for them until he was sold to the San Antonio Spurs when the Squires lacked money. He was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the third round of the 1974 NBA draft. However instead of playing for the Suns, Gervin chose to stay in the ABA and play for the Spurs.
Once he entered the ABA, Gervin was an outstanding scorer, averaging 14.1 points per game in his rookie year earning All-Rookie First Team Honors. The next season, Gervin drastically improved jumping up to 23.4 points per game while leading the Spurs to a 45-39 record and the ABA playoffs. During the 1976 season, the ABA and NBA merged and Gervin was officially part of the NBA. In the following years, Gervin quickly transitioned into one of the best players in the NBA, leading the league in scoring for three consecutive years, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who many consider one of the greatest scorers ever was still in his prime.
Gervin improved his scoring every year during those three seasons, averaging 27.2 points per game in 1977-78, 29.6 points per game in 1978-79, and 33.1 points per game in 1979-80. During this tenure while Gervin improved, the Spurs were never able to find playoff success although making the playoffs regularly. Gervin played for the Spurs until 1985, making the All-Star game and averaging over 20 points per game every single season as a member of the team. He was traded from the Spurs to the Chicago Bulls, likely to become a mentor for the young and up and coming Michael Jordan. After averaging 16.2 points per game for the Bulls, Gervin retired quite early at the age of 33. He later made the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Throughout Gervin’s career, although he was mostly known for his scoring, his defense was not shabby either, as he averaged 1.0 blocks and 1.2 steals per game in his career. Gervin only missed two all star games, one in his rookie year when he was only 20 years old and developing, and one in his final season with the Bulls where he was getting older and regressing. When looking back at the NBA during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Gervin should be mentioned along the likes of Julius Erving and Moses Malone. He made 12 consecutive All-Star games in his career (3 with the ABA and 9 with the NBA), 5 All-NBA First Teams, 2 All-NBA Second Teams, and 2 All-ABA Second Teams. Gervin is rarely mentioned when discussing NBA all-time greats, he is one of the most underrated players ever.