George Gervin (born April 27, 1952 in Detroit, Michigan) is a former professional basketball player, a shooting guard for the American Basketball Association's (ABA) Virginia Squires and San Antonio Spurs and the National Basketball Association's (NBA) San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls. Gervin averaged at least 14 points in all fourteen of his ABA and NBA seasons, and finished with an NBA career average of 26.2 points per game. Further, although not known for his defense, Gervin retired with the second-most blocks of any NBA guard. Gervin holds the distinction of being a former teammate of both Julius Erving (with the Squires) and Michael Jordan (with the Bulls).
Nicknamed Iceman (or Ice) for his cool demeanor on the court, Gervin was primarily known for his scoring talents. He led teams at both Eastern Michigan University and Long Beach State, then led the NBA in scoring average three years in a row from 1978 to 1980, and again in 1982. After leaving college due to an altercation, Gervin was set to try out for the Virginia Squires of the ABA. It is rumored that Gervin made 22 of 25 three-point attempts, after which he was signed without Virginia officials having seen him play competitively. Prior to Michael Jordan, Gervin had the most scoring titles of any guard in league history.
While Magic Johnson is often recalled as the first all-time great "big guard," this title accurately falls to Gervin. At a rail-thin 6'8", Gervin was the first great "big" guard, while Magic is the first great "big" point guard.
His first scoring crown, which took place in 1978, was one of NBA's most famed moments. He defeated David Thompson 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 in the second quarter alone) in a loss on 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.
His trademark was the "finger roll," a technique consisting of shooting by rolling the basketball along his fingertips. While others mimicked this style when shooting layups, Gervin was known to "finger roll" from as far as the free throw line.
Gervin was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame, had his #44 jersey retired by the Spurs and was named to the NBA's fifty greatest players list. Gervin was ranked #25 on SLAM Magazine's Top 75 NBA Players of all time in 2003.
He remains active in the San Antonio community in part through the George Gervin Youth Center. Gervin is beloved in San Antonio. Former teammate Larry Kenon, also a quality NBA player, once complained that the city of San Antonio had "Gervinitis."
Gervin's brother, Derrick Gervin, played collegiately at UT-San Antonio, and had several unsuccessful tryouts with NBA teams.
Gary Payton said Gervin was his favorite player to watch as a kid. Asked to elaborate, Payton said that it was because "he was just so saucy". 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). Gervin met his wife when playing high school ball. She attended an opponent's school. When rooting against Gervin in high school, she used to implore her team to "not let them throw the ball to that skinny kid."