George Gervin

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George Gervin
George gervin today.JPG
Personal information
Born (1952-04-27) April 27, 1952 (age 62)
Detroit, Michigan
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight 185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High school Martin Luther King
(Detroit, Michigan)
College Eastern Michigan (1970–1972)
NBA draft 1974 / Round: 3 / Pick: 40th overall
Selected by the Phoenix Suns
Pro career 1972–1990
Position Shooting guard / Small forward
Number 44, 8
Career history
19721974 Virginia Squires (ABA)
1974–1985 San Antonio Spurs (ABA and NBA)
1985–1986 Chicago Bulls
1986–1987 Banco Roma (Italy)
1989 Quad City Thunder (CBA)
1989–1990 TDK Manresa (Spain)
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA and ABA statistics
Points 26,595 (25.1 ppg)
Rebounds 5,602 (5.3 rpg)
Assists 2,798 (2.6 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

George "The Iceman" Gervin (born April 27, 1952) is an American retired professional basketball player who played in both the American Basketball Association (ABA) and National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Virginia Squires, San Antonio Spurs, and Chicago Bulls. Gervin averaged at least 14 points per game in all 14 of his ABA and NBA seasons, and finished with an NBA career average of 26.2 points per game. Gervin is widely regarded to be one of the greatest shooting guards in NBA history.

Career[edit]

High school and college[edit]

Gervin attended Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, where he struggled on and off the court until he reached his senior year, when he had a growth spurt and averaged 31 points and 20 rebounds to lead his school to the state quarterfinals.[1]

Gervin received a scholarship to play for Jerry Tarkanian at Long Beach State, but had such a culture shock that he returned home before the first semester was over. He transferred to Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan and averaged 29.5 points as a sophomore forward in 1971–72.

While competing in a Division II tournament in Evansville, Indiana, Gervin punched a Roanoke College player. Gervin was suspended for the following season and eventually was kicked off the team. Invitations to try out for the Olympic and Pan-American teams were withdrawn.

Virginia Squires[edit]

Gervin initially played for the Pontiac (Michigan) Chaparrals of the Eastern Basketball Association, where he was spotted by Johnny Kerr, a scout for the Virginia Squires of the ABA. Kerr signed Gervin to the Squires for a $40,000 a year contract.

Gervin's time in Virginia would be short-lived, however. The Squires' finances had never been stable, and they had been forced to start trading their best players to get enough money to stay alive. In the space of only four months, they traded Julius Erving and Swen Nater for cash and/or draft picks. During the 1974 ABA All-Star Weekend, rumors abounded that the Squires were in talks about dealing Gervin for cash. The rumors turned out to be true; on January 30 Gervin was sold to the Spurs for $228,000. The ABA tried to block the trade, claiming that by trading their last legitimate star, the Squires were holding a fire sale. However, a court sided with the Spurs. Within two years, the Squires were no more.

San Antonio Spurs[edit]

Gervin as a member of the San Antonio Spurs in the American Basketball Association.

With Gervin as the centerpiece, the Spurs transformed from a primarily defense-oriented team into an exciting fast-breaking team that played what coach Bob Bass called "schoolyard basketball." Although the Spurs never won an ABA playoff series during Gervin's first three years there, their high-powered offense made them very attractive to the NBA, and the Spurs joined the more established league as part of the 1976 ABA–NBA merger.

Gervin's first NBA scoring crown came in 1978, when he narrowly edged David Thompson for the scoring title by seven hundredths of a point (27.22 to 27.15). Although Thompson came up with a memorable performance for the last game of the regular season, scoring 73 points, Gervin maintained his slight lead by scoring 63 points (including an NBA record 33 points in the second quarter) in a loss in his last game of the season. With the scoring crown in hand, he sat out some of the third, and all of the fourth quarter.[2]

Gervin went on to lead the NBA in scoring average three years in a row from 1978 to 1980 (with a high of 33.1 points per game in 1979-80), and again in 1982. Prior to Michael Jordan, Gervin had the most scoring titles of any guard in league history. In 1981, while sitting out 3 games due to injury, Gervin's replacement, Ron Brewer, averaged over 30 ppg. When Gervin returned, he scored 40+ points. When asked if he was sending a message, Gervin said, "Just the way the Lord planned it" and added, "Ice be cool" (with Ron Brewer). In 1982, the Spurs drafted high scoring guards Oliver Robinson of UAB and Tony Grier from South Florida to take some offensive pressure off Gervin.

Chicago Bulls[edit]

In 1985, Gervin was traded to the Chicago Bulls for forward David Greenwood after missing multiple preseason workouts amid the possibility of being relegated to the bench by new head coach, Cotton Fitzsimmons.[3] The Bulls' rising star Michael Jordan stated he was "unhappy" after the trade. The last NBA game of Gervin's career was Jordan's 63 point game against the Boston Celtics in the playoffs on April 20, 1986. Gervin recorded 1 assist and 1 personal foul in five minutes of play for the Bulls.

Post-NBA career[edit]

When he left the NBA, Gervin played for several years in Europe: in Italy for Banco Roma during the 1986-87 season where he averaged 26.1 points per game, and in the Spanish National Basketball League for TDK Manresa team (he was 38 years old at the time).[4][5] At this point in his career he had lost some of his quickness, but his scoring instinct remained; he averaged 25.5 points, 5 rebounds and 1.2 assists, and in his last match he scored 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to keep Manresa in the first Spanish division.[4]

Career summary and legacy[edit]

Nicknamed Iceman for his cool demeanor on the court, Gervin was primarily known for his scoring talents.

Gervin's trademark move was the finger roll, a shot in which one rolls the basketball along his or her fingertips. While others mimicked this style when shooting layups, Gervin was known to "finger roll" from as far as the free throw line.

Gervin's legacy has inspired other athletes, such as Gary Payton who said Gervin was his favorite player to watch as a kid. He was also idolized by former NFL and Heisman-winning quarterback Ty Detmer. Detmer records in his autobiography that he was elated to receive Gervin's autograph one day as a youth in San Antonio.

Awards and records[edit]

Gervin was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996; additionally his #44 jersey has been retired by the Spurs and he was named to the NBA's 50 Greatest Players.[4] Gervin was ranked #45 on SLAM Magazine's Top 50 NBA Players of All Time in 2009.

He remains active in the San Antonio community with his seven organizations designed specifically for underprivileged kids, including the George Gervin Youth Center. Gervin is beloved in San Antonio and believes that his own experience as an underprivileged child in Michigan inspired him to get involved.[2]

At the time of his trade to the Bulls, he held nearly every significant scoring record in Spurs history. Many of his records have been surpassed by David Robinson and Tim Duncan. Gervin retired with the most blocks by any guard in NBA history.[6]

Though a revered NBA and ABA All-Star and Hall of Famer, Gervin never made an appearance with a team in either an NBA or ABA championship series during his 13-year career in American professional basketball.

Gervin holds the distinction of being a former teammate of both Julius Erving (with the Squires) and Michael Jordan (with the Bulls).

On his 2009 release Slaughterhouse on the Prairie American guitarist Buckethead dedicated a track to Iceman.

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season[edit]

Season League Team GP GS MIN FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF REB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
1972–73 ABA Virginia 30 23.0 .472 .231 .814 1.1 3.1 4.3 1.1 1.8 2.4 14.1
1973–74 ABA Virginia/San Antonio 74 33.9 .471 .143 .815 2.3 6.1 8.4 1.9 1.4 1.6 3.4 3.6 23.4
1974–75 ABA San Antonio 84 37.1 .474 .309 .830 2.9 5.4 8.3 2.5 1.6 1.6 3.0 3.5 23.4
1975–76 ABA San Antonio 81 33.9 .499 .255 .857 2.2 4.5 6.7 2.5 1.4 1.5 2.7 3.6 21.8
1976–77 NBA San Antonio 82 33.0 .544 .833 1.6 3.9 5.5 2.9 1.3 1.3 3.5 23.1
1977–78 NBA San Antonio 82 34.8 .536 .830 1.4 3.7 5.1 3.7 1.7 1.3 3.7 3.1 27.2
1978–79 NBA San Antonio 80 36.1 .541 .826 1.8 3.2 5.0 2.7 1.7 1.1 3.6 3.4 29.6
1979–80 NBA San Antonio 78 37.6 .528 .314 .852 2.0 3.2 5.2 2.6 1.4 1.0 3.3 2.7 33.1
1980–81 NBA San Antonio 82 33.7 .492 .257 .826 1.5 3.6 5.1 3.2 1.1 0.7 3.1 2.6 27.1
1981–82 NBA San Antonio 79 79 35.7 .500 .278 .864 1.7 3.2 5.0 2.4 1.0 0.6 2.7 2.7 32.3
1982–83 NBA San Antonio 78 78 36.3 .487 .364 .853 1.4 3.2 4.6 3.4 1.1 0.9 3.2 3.1 26.2
1983–84 NBA San Antonio 76 76 34.0 .490 .417 .842 1.4 2.7 4.1 2.9 1.0 0.6 2.9 2.9 25.9
1984–85 NBA San Antonio 72 69 29.0 .508 .000 .844 1.1 2.2 3.3 2.5 0.9 0.7 2.8 2.9 21.2
1985–86 NBA Chicago 82 75 25.2 .472 .211 .879 1.0 1.7 2.6 1.8 0.6 0.3 2.0 2.6 16.2
NBA Career 791 33.5 .511 .297 .844 1.5 3.1 4.6 2.8 1.2 0.8 3.0 2.9 26.2
ABA Career 269 33.7 .480 .234 .831 2.3 5.1 7.4 2.2 1.4 1.6 2.9 3.4 21.9
Total Career 1,060 33.6 .504 .271 .841 1.7 3.6 5.3 2.6 1.2 1.0 3.0 3.1 25.1

Career highs[edit]

40 point games[edit]

In the NBA, Gervin scored 40 or more points 68 times in the regular season and six times in the playoffs.

Occurred in playoff competition
Points Opponent Home/Away Date FGM FGA FTM FTA 3PM
63 New Orleans Jazz Away April 9, 1978 23 49 17 20
55 Indiana Pacers Away January 23, 1980 21 32 12 1
53 Denver Nuggets Home January 8, 1980 23 40 7 0
52 San Diego Clippers Home January 11, 1979 24 33 4
50 (3 OT) Milwaukee Bucks Home March 6, 1982 21 31 8 0
49 Boston Celtics Home February 17, 1981 17 15 0
49 Detroit Pistons Home February 17, 1982 22 29 5 0
48 Boston Celtics Home March 4, 1982 17 14 0
47 Cleveland Cavaliers Away October 18, 1979 21 35 4 1
47 (OT) Golden State Warriors Home November 13, 1979 22 33 3 0
47 Seattle SuperSonics Away November 13, 1981 15 17 18 0
47 Portland Trail Blazers Away January 5, 1982 19 30 8 9 1
47 Utah Jazz Away March 27, 1982 18 11 0
47 Phoenix Suns Home November 7, 1982 16 31 14 14 1
47 New Jersey Nets Home January 29, 1985 16 25 15 18 0
46 San Diego Clippers Away October 18, 1978 16 14
46 Houston Rockets Home March 30, 1979 15 16 18
46 Cleveland Cavaliers Away April 3, 1979 18 27 10
46 Philadelphia 76ers Home December 27, 1979 14 18 21 0
46 San Diego Clippers Home December 29, 1981 21 31 4 0
46 Washington Bullets Home April 18, 1978 17 32 12 15
45 Portland Trail Blazers Home December 4, 1981 20 30 5 0
45 Golden State Warriors Away January 7, 1982 15 15 0
45 Dallas Mavericks Away November 27, 1982 18 39 9 0
45 Dallas Mavericks Away January 27, 1986 15 29 15 16 0
44 Chicago Bulls Home November 26, 1982 17 31 10 12 0
44 Kansas City Kings Home December 29, 1983 16 27 12 13 0
44 Houston Rockets Home April 4, 1980
43 Detroit Pistons Home October 28, 1978 16 11
43 Los Angeles Lakers Away December 16, 1979 20 40 2 1
43 (OT) Washington Bullets Away December 20, 1983 20 33 3 7 0
43 Philadelphia 76ers Away December 21, 1983 16 26 11 15 0
42 (OT) Seattle SuperSonics Away January 30, 1977 14 14
42 Kansas City Kings Away January 29, 1978 19 25 4
42 Washington Bullets Home May 11, 1979 19 31 4 6
42 Washington Bullets Away May 18, 1979 16 31 10 13
42 Philadelphia 76ers Away December 5, 1979 17 7 1
42 Phoenix Suns Home January 2, 1980 18 6 0
42 Cleveland Cavaliers Away January 17, 1980 16 8 2
42 Washington Bullets Home January 19, 1980 18 34 6 7 0
42 Milwaukee Bucks Home February 17, 1980 18 6 0
42 Golden State Warriors Away November 1, 1980 16 10 0
42 Washington Bullets Away December 1, 1981 17 30 8 10 0
42 Houston Rockets Home December 30, 1981 17 8 0
42 Washington Bullets Home February 9, 1982 16 28 10 13 0
42 San Diego Clippers Away November 11, 1982 16 27 9 10 1
42 Kansas City Kings Away February 25, 1983 12 18 22 0
42 Denver Nuggets Home April 26, 1983 17 22 8 8 0
42 San Diego Clippers Away March 18, 1984 14 29 14 15 0
42 Cleveland Cavaliers Home November 10, 1984 18 23 6 6 0
42 Houston Rockets Away January 25, 1985 21 26 0 0 0
41 Portland Trail Blazers Home January 23, 1977 14 13
41 Seattle SuperSonics Home March 8, 1978 15 11
41 Detroit Pistons Away October 26, 1979 17 6 7 1
41 Denver Nuggets Away December 11, 1979 14 12 1
41 Houston Rockets Home February 12, 1980 15 8 3
41 New Jersey Nets Away February 24, 1980 16 27 9 9 0
41 Washington Bullets Away March 11, 1980 16 30 9 10 0
41 Indiana Pacers Home March 21, 1980 15 11 0
41 Portland Trail Blazers Away December 7, 1980 17 7 0
41 Cleveland Cavaliers Away March 20, 1982 16 6 3
41 (OT) Detroit Pistons Home February 8, 1983 19 31 3 4 0
41 New York Knicks Home January 31, 1984 19 31 3 6 0
41 Denver Nuggets Away April 20, 1985 16 25 9 11 0
40 Kansas City Kings Away March 25, 1978 15 10
40 New York Knicks Home March 7, 1980 15 8 12 2
40 Utah Jazz Home December 12, 1981 18 33 4 0
40 Detroit Pistons Away February 25, 1982 18 31 4 0
40 San Diego Clippers Away March 9, 1982 14 12 0
40 Washington Bullets Away November 17, 1982 14 29 12 15 0
40 Los Angeles Lakers Away February 15, 1983 16 24 8 9 0
40 Dallas Mavericks Away April 16, 1983 15 10 0
40 Houston Rockets Home January 13, 1984 15 26 10 12 0
40 Golden State Warriors Away February 2, 1984 17 31 6 6 0

Regular season[edit]

Stat High Opponent Date
Points 63 at New Orleans Jazz April 9, 1978
Points, half (1st) 53 at New Orleans Jazz April 9, 1978
Points, quarter (2nd) 33 at New Orleans Jazz April 9, 1978
Consecutive points, first half 22 at New Orleans Jazz April 9, 1978
Consecutive points, first half 18 at New Orleans Jazz April 9, 1978
Field goal percentage 17-18 (.944) vs. Chicago Bulls February 18, 1978
Field goals made 24 vs. San Diego Clippers January 11, 1979
Field goal attempts 49 at New Orleans Jazz April 9, 1978
Free throws made, none missed
Free throws made, one missed
Free throws made 18 vs. Philadelphia 76ers December 27, 1979
Free throws made 18 at Kansas City Kings February 25, 1983
Free throw attempts 22 at Kansas City Kings February 25, 1983
Three-point field goals made
Three-point field goal attempts
Rebounds 18 vs. Denver Nuggets April 13, 1982
Offensive rebounds
Defensive rebounds
Assists 11
Steals
Blocked shots
Turnovers
Minutes played

Playoffs[edit]

Stat High Opponent Date
Points 46 vs. Washington Bullets April 18, 1978
Field goal percentage
Field goals made 19 vs. Washington Bullets May 11, 1979
Field goals made 19 vs. Houston Rockets April 4, 1980
Field goal attempts 32
Free throws made, none missed
Free throws made, one missed
Free throws made 14 at Los Angeles Lakers May 9, 1982
Free throw attempts 17
Three-point field goals made
Three-point field goal attempts
Rebounds 15 vs. Los Angeles Lakers May 14, 1982
Offensive rebounds
Defensive rebounds
Assists 9
Steals
Blocked shots
Turnovers 9 at Los Angeles Lakers May 8, 1983
Minutes played

Personal life[edit]

Gervin played interscholastic basketball while attending Martin Luther King High School; he was a Detroit Free Press All-State selection in 1970.[7] George has a son, George Gervin, Jr. (nicknamed "Gee"), who has played for the Harlem Globetrotters and in the Swedish League for the Norrköping Dolphins.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]