George Gervin


The 1977-78 season featured two of the league's most spectacular stars, both future Hall of Famers, in a duel for the scoring crown that came down to the last day-and night-of the season. Denver's David Thompson and San Antonio's George Gervin had been battling it out for the scoring title throughout most of the season, and it all came down to April 9, 1978, when Gervin took a league-leading 26.8 average into the last day of the season, with Thompson second at 26.6.

But on that final afternoon, Thompson came out on fire against the Detroit Pistons and was encouraged to shoot at every opportunity by his teammates. He scored 32 points in the first quarter, an NBA record, and had 53 by halftime. He finished with 73 points, second only to Wilt Chamberlain's 100 for most points ever scored in an NBA game. He was a stunning 28-for-38 from the field and 17-for-20 from the line.

That pushed Thompson's scoring average to 27.15. Gervin, who played that night in New Orleans against the Jazz, knew he needed to score at least 58 points if he wanted to wear the scoring crown.

Gervin, nicknamed the Iceman, was fed the ball on just about every play by his teammates and rarely passed up a shot. He tallied 20 points in the first quarter and then broke Thompson's record with 33 points in the second quarter, giving him 53 at the half. He quickly got six more points and then headed to the bench, knowing the title was his. After a long rest he reentered the game and finished with 63 points, playing 33 minutes to Thompson's 43. He shot 23-for-49 from the field and 17-for 20 from the line.

Gervin finished with an average of 27.22 to Thompson's 27.15 in the closest scoring race in NBA history.