When asked about which modern player did he share the most parallels with, George Gervin was quick to shout out Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The ABA (American Basketball Association) shut down after merging with the NBA in 1976, but not before it gave us its fair share of legends. Big names including Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and George McGinnis came to the NBA, but the best scorer of the lot was George Gervin.
‘The Iceman’ basically carried the San Antonio Spurs on his back for almost a decade during the 70s and 80s. Playing incredible fast-break basketball, the Spurs under Gervin showed that exciting offence was the future. Master exponent of the ‘Gervin Finger Roll’, the legend truly believes ABA had a massive impact in the NBA.
Gervin amassed 26,595 points in his career, nearly 6000 of which came in the ABA. During an interview with NBA.com, the Hall of Famer was adamant about the importance of scoring. “It’s the ABA! Whether they want to accept it or not – I knew we could play back in the ’70s, because it’s a fast-paced game and that’s what fans want to see.”
The legend seemed to appreciate reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. “The boy in Milwaukee [Giannis Antetokounmpo] – sliding, gliding – that’s how I did, I didn’t jump, I slid like on roller skates.” Gervin also added, “he’s smooth, but if he had a jump shot, I think he’d be the best thing in basketball right now.”
George Gervin was also impressed by James Harden’s offensive arsenal
Gervin was extremely happy with James Harden‘s ability to score aplenty. “Look at James Harden – he’s shooting that rock. I ain’t got nothing but praises for him; keep doing it James, because you’re definitely going down in the record books for a long time.”
George Gervin and Walter Davis pic.twitter.com/EebxvoTL1J
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He hesitated to admit, however, that any modern player matched his skills. He talked about how his game was extremely unique, and how his versatility was unmatched. “I don’t see anybody, I don’t see guys using lefts and rights like I did, and you know I’m known for the finger roll.”
While George Gervin was not able to culminate his extraordinary success into a championship, he looks fondly at his career nonetheless. After the NBA-ABA merger, the league turned into an offensive glut, and paved the way for the offense-heavy game that we see today.