‘Iceman’ George Gervin and ‘Dr. J’ – Julius Erving have 2 of the greatest nicknames ever. Gervin recounts the experience of playing Erving 1-on-1.
Gervin and Julius Erving were probably the two greatest wing players in basketball during the 1970s. Both of them made their professional debuts for the Virginia Squires in the ABA.
Julius began his professional career around 2 years before Gervin in the league. He was a more naturally talented, athletic and a physical specimen by himself. He understood basketball holistically on a level that other wing players before him hadn’t displayed.
Erving took ahead the legacy established by the likes of Elgin Baylor as a dunker and as a small forward. Dr. J himself revolutionized the play for his position by being essentially the first complete forward in basketball history.
We would see the likes of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and a whole host of other legends copying from the Dr. J playbook. And it would make sense, because for their generation, Dr. J was their Michael Jordan, so to speak.
George Gervin recollects his experience with Virginia Squires alongside Julius Erving (Dr. J) as a rookie
George Gervin, as told to you before, was a teammate of Erving during his rookie year in the ABA. The Iceman says that playing 1-on-1 basketball with Dr. J after Squires practices sharpened his toolkit:
“Being in the ABA, we didn’t have that national media exposure. But we all knew who the Dr. J was. And, you know, having that opportunity to play with him as a rookie gave me the confidence as a rookie to succeed in my own career.”
“You know, me and Doc, we used to practice. And then after practice, Dr. J used to come get me and say ‘Hey, we’re going 1-on-1!’ So most practices, me and Doc played 1-on-1 after practice.”
“Now, the Doc operated, but he gave me the confidence too, after a week or so. Then the Iceman in me came out, because I was probably a better jump shooter than Doc. Doc was more of a scorer.”
“Once I understood what I was dealing with, the 1-on-1 games got even.”