Who is George Gervin?
George Gervin is an American former basketball player who, during his 18-year-long playing career, played for the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association (ABA), the San Antonio Spurs of the ABA and later the National Basketball Association (NBA), and Chicago Bulls of the NBA. Nicknamed “The Iceman”, Gervin is originally from Michigan and started playing the sport when he was quite young. He was part of the basketball program at his school and later earned a scholarship to California State University. However, he dropped out after one semester and enrolled at Eastern Michigan University. Gervin began his professional career at the Squires and spent two seasons there before he was sold to the Spurs. He was there for the next 11 years, during which the franchise joined the NBA. In the later part of his career, he played for several European clubs and ultimately retired in 1990. Gervin was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996. He was also hailed as one of the 50 Greatest Players in the history of the NBA, and his jersey number (#44) was retired by the Spurs.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on April 27, 1952, in Detroit, Michigan, USA, George Gervin is one of the six children of Booker Gervin Sr. and Geraldine Gervin. His younger brother, Derrick Gervin, is also a retired professional basketball player. His younger sister, Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, is a politician and a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives from the 120th District.
Gervin was a student at the Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in Detroit, where he played basketball. He was a troubled youth dealing with issues both on and off the court. However, that changed after he experienced a growth sprout. He registered 31 points and 20 rebounds to guide his school to the state quarterfinals.
After graduating from high school, he started attending California State University on a scholarship. While it gave him a chance to play under renowned Coach Jerry Tarkanian, the cultural shock he experienced in California was too much for him. He transferred to Eastern Michigan University after one semester.
He encountered some troubles at Eastern Michigan as well, including an incident where he punched a Roanoke player during an NCAA College Division national semifinal game. He was subsequently dropped from the team and his invitations to try out for the Olympic and Pan-American teams were revoked.
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Despite his removal from the college team, George Gervin still had much to give to the sport. In exchange for $500 per month, he played for the Pontiac Chaparrals of the Eastern Basketball Association.
He then joined the Squires for a $40,000 a year contract in 1972. His tenure there was not long, lasting only two seasons. He averaged 25.4 points per game in his last season with the Squires before he was sold to the Spurs.
At the time, the San Antonio Spurs was an ABA-affiliated team and were known for their extremely defence-oriented game. With him on the roster, the team became an exciting fast-breaking force of nature.
Although his team did not win an ABA playoff in the next three years before the Spurs became an NBA affiliate, their game garnered widespread attention, including from the NBA. In the 1975 ABA playoffs, he scored an astounding 34 points per game on average.
In 1976, the Spurs became part of the more established league following the ABA-NBA merger. In his debut NBA season (1976-77), he played 82 games, registering 23.1 points per game on average. While the Spurs made it to the playoffs that season, they lost both of their Eastern Conference games against the Boston Celtics.
Gervin delivered his career-best performance in the 1979-80 regular season, scoring 33.1 points per game on average in 78 games. That season, he won the NBA All-Star Game MVP.
Although the Spurs did not win an NBA championship while Gervin was playing there, he did help them secure five division titles (1978-79; 1981-83). The legendary shooting guard was named NBA Scoring Champion four times (1978-80;1982) and NBA All-Star nine times (1977-85).
He was traded to the Chicago Bulls before the 1985-86 season and played one season there, registering 16.2 points per game on average in 82 games.
Gervin subsequently spent the 1986-87 season at the Italian club Banco di Roma and the 1989-90 season at the Spanish club TDK Manresa. He also played for the Quad City Thunder of the Continental Basketball Association in 1989.
Gervin averaged 21.9 points per game in 269 games in his ABA career and 26.2 points per game in 791 games in his NBA career. Since his retirement, he has been involved in the San Antonio community. He has done remarkable work for underprivileged children, including setting up the George Gervin Youth Center in 1991.
Family & Personal Life
George Gervin married Joyce King in 1976. The couple divorced in 1984 only to remarry in the following year. They have three children together, including George Gervin, Jr., who is a former member of the Harlem Globetrotters’ roster.