George Gervin admitted that he was being a bit biased in picking Julius Erving over Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the best of his generation.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is almost universally considered the greatest basketball players from the decade of the 1970s. The Harlem-born center redefined the game as a two-way center par excellence.
There was little that Kareem couldn’t do – but there was one aspect of the game where he fell a bit short. This was in terms of being a showman. Kareem’s skyhook might have been the single most effective offensive weapon in basketball history, but it seemed bland to the layman and the casual fans.
And thus, there was a whole generation of basketball fans who switched to watching the ABA for more entertaining games. They were treated to some of the most innovative hardwood moves of the time by one Doctor J, aka Julius Erving.
Julius Erving was the first basketball player who really made the game into his own personal style statement. The Doc was an ABA sensation and the all-time greatest player of the now-defunct rival league to the NBA.
He spent his best years in basketball playing for the New York Nets. That’s the major reason why his NBA stats don’t really scream out ‘GOAT!’ to modern basketball fans.
George Gervin puts Julius Erving over Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the greatest of his era
While Dr. J and the Captain were putting their teams on their backs and leading them to NBA Finals, there was one less-heralded, if equally effective player playing in the south.
George Gervin had brought basketball success to San Antonio as a member of the Spurs. He’d won 4 scoring titles in his heyday, and he was a walking bucket if the NBA ever had one.
Gervin as a wing player was obviously biased when he picked Julius Erving as the best player of his era. After all, the two had been teammates at the Virginia Squires, and swingman tend to favor their kind. This is what he said in an interview with Bill Simmons in 2014:
“I’m going with Julius Erving. Well, I’m a little biased because of the ABA. But the greatest of all time, to me, because that’s who I played against, is Kareem. His dominance, his accuracy was almost next-to-none.”
Well, this was heady praise for the Captain indeed, as it was for Dr J himself. The Iceman was able to put forth his opinion with as little abrasiveness as possible.