An electrifying shot. The coolest demeanor.
In both his ABA and NBA starring days, Gervin was known for his trademark shot: the finger roll. Gervin was adept at getting it over all kinds of defenders regardless of height, jumping ability or size.
Gervin grew up in Detroit and played at Eastern Michigan University. After his college career was derailed by a fight in a tournament game and after a short stint in a minor league, he joined the ABA's Virginia Squires in the middle of the 1972-73 season.
The following season, Gervin was sold to the San Antonio Spurs. Over his four seasons in the ABA from 1972-76, Gervin averaged 21.9 ppg and 7.4 rpg for Virginia and San Antonio.
Gervin was eligible for the 1974 Draft and selected by the Phoenix Suns with the 40th pick (third round). But he chose to remain in the ABA with the Spurs.
He'd become a more prolific scorer after the Spurs joined the NBA in the 1976 ABA-NBA merger. Gervin won scoring titles in 1977-78, '78-79, '79-80 and '81-82, averaging 29.8 ppg on 52% shooting over that five-season stretch. His first of the four scoring titles came with a 63-point performance on the final night of the season in which Gervin set a record (since broken) for most points in a quarter: 33 in the second.
Gervin never won an NBA MVP, but was close several times. He was second in MVP voting in 1977-78 and '78-79, third in '79-80, fifth in '80-81 and sixth in '81-82.
Over the first seven post-merger seasons, the Spurs had the league's fifth best record, winning 59% of their games. But they never reached The Finals, losing to Washington in the Eastern Conference finals (after holding a 3-1 lead) in 1979, and to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals in both '82 and '83.
In 1985, Gervin was traded to Chicago, where he played his final NBA season. Upon leaving the Spurs, Gervin had scored 23,602 points and had more than 60 team records. He finished his career in Europe, playing in Italy for Banco Roma and averaging 26.1 ppg in 1986-87.
In 1996, Gervin was both named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He became the second Spurs player to have his number retired when San Antonio did so for his No. 44 on Dec. 5, 1987.