Born on April 27, 1952 in Detroit, Michigan, George Gervin is a retired professional basketball player who is known to be one of the greatest shooting guards in NBA history.
As a child, Gervin always had a knack for basketball and first started playing with a neighbourhood friend, Ralph Simpson, who then went on to play with the Michigan State. While attending Martin Luther King High School, Gervin tried out for the school’s basketball team but did not make the cut. Befriending the school’s janitor, Gervin took up the duty of cleaning the gym floor in return for after-school practices in order to improve his shots.
His love and dedication for the game brought huge improvements in Gervin’s basketball career but his academic career suffered greatly. In order to pull himself up to the level of his classmates, Gervin had to attend summer school and miss half of his games during junior year. His final year at Martin Luther King, however, brought stability into his life and Gervin led his school team into the state quarterfinals with an average of 31 points and 20 rebounds.
Upon graduating from high school, George Gervin accepted a scholarship from Long Beach State but the contrasting culture compelled him to return home without even completing a semester. Gervin then enrolled in Eastern Michigan University, where he averaged 29.5 points as a sophomore.
Gervin’s baskbetball career, once again, got off track when he hit a player from Roanoke College out of frustration during a game. This action brought disastrous consequences to Gervin’s otherwise clean record. He was, first, suspended for the following season and then kicked off the Eastern Michigan team altogether. Along with the dismissal, Gervin was not allowed to audition for the Olympic and Pan-American teams either.
As a last resort, the struggling player returned to Eastern Basketball Association and was then able to earn himself a spot in one of the minor-leagues. During one of his games with the Pontiac Chapparals, Gervin received a breakthrough when a scout from the Virginia Squires, Johnny Kerr, witnessed him score 50 points and offered Gervin a job that paid $40,000 a year as compared to the previous $6,000.
Averaging 14.1 points on behalf of the Virginia Squires, Gervin became popular as The Iceman, a title given to him for his composed and cool demeanor on the court.
On the day Gervin played his first ABA All-Star game during the 1973-1974 season, his contract was sold to the San Antonio Spurs. While the deal was scrutinized by both, the NBA and ABA, the 21-year old star went into hiding. Finally, the decision was made in favour of the Spurs and Gervin joined the team with a kick start of 23.4 points per game. Being one of the top 10 scorers, he made it to the All-Star team for two consecutive years. Gervin also got a chance to share the court with his childhood friend, Ralph, during the 1975 ABA All-Star game.
Gervin managed to surprise many of his critics when the Spurs joined the NBA in 1976 and earned four scoring titles in five years along with five selections into the All-NBA First Team and appearance in nine consecutive NBA All-Star games.
After playing a memorable tenure with the Spurs, George Gervin retired and represented Banco Roma, Italy, for a short while. However, by this time, the player had managed to for a drug abuse habit and required rehabilitation quite often, forbidding him from playing anymore.
Turning his direction towards a different sport, Gervin founded an annual golf tournament in San Antonio. He also served as a community relations representative for the Spurs until 1992 and was then made assistant by Head Coach John Lucas.
Even though he could not make a comeback into basketball, George Gervin enjoyed being named to the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team and was also admitted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.