George Gervin, known as ‘The Iceman,’ had a successful 14-year basketball career in both the ABA and the NBA, primarily playing for the San Antonio Spurs. In his final season, he joined the Chicago Bulls and played alongside the emerging star, Michael Jordan.
In the book ‘Michael Jordan: The Life’ by Roland Lazenby, an intriguing story is shared about a 1-on-1 match between these two legendary players. Jordan, who entered the NBA in 1984, immediately made an impact, winning the Rookie of the Year award. With his athleticism and determination, Jordan challenged Gervin to a game.
Gervin realized he couldn’t match Jordan’s energy, admitting, “We played… I was a veteran on my way out, so he was messing with the old Ice Man. He wasn’t messing with the Ice Man of old.”
Gervin emphasized that he was past his prime in 1985 and suggested that if they had played in his prime, he would have been more than a match for Jordan. He paid tribute to Jordan’s athletic abilities, acknowledging their different styles of play. Gervin described himself as a smooth glider akin to Fred Astaire, while Jordan was more like a jumping jack.
Gervin’s finger roll shots and lethal jumper allowed him to average 26.2 points per game throughout his career. He drew comparisons between himself and Jordan, highlighting that Jordan lacked a jump shot when he entered the league, whereas Gervin had that skill from the beginning. Gervin retired in 1986 with four scoring titles and nine NBA All-Star appearances.
George Gervin acquired the nickname ‘The Iceman’ due to his remarkable scoring ability, calm demeanor, and reluctance to engage in conversations. His ABA teammate, Roland Taylor, initially called him ‘Ice,’ and the name stuck. Gervin credited Julius Erving for further solidifying the persona by engaging in intense 1-on-1 battles during practice. ‘Ice’ evolved into ‘The Iceman,’ making it one of the coolest nicknames in NBA history, pun intended.