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The Iceman speaketh (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday April 12, 2005 5:26PM; Updated: Friday April 15, 2005 12:25AM
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SI.com: Did you have much influence on Coach Moe's wardrobe?

GG: Definitely not. It ain't no secret, but he was the kind of guy that didn't care. He definitely was tacky. His whole thing was that as long as his clothes were clean, how looked didn't make a difference. (laughs)

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SI.com: On the last day of the '77-78 season, you needed to score at least 58 points in order to beat out the Denver Nuggets' David Thompson for the league scoring title. Earlier in the day, Thompson rang up an impressive 73 points to put the pressure on you. After missing six straight shots in the season finale against the Utah Jazz, you scored a record 33 points in the second quarter and re-established an NBA record set earlier that evening when Thompson scored 32 in the first quarter. Courtesy of your 63-point night, you narrowly edged by Thompson for the scoring title (27.22 ppg vs. 27.15 ppg). Has he ever forgiven you?

GG: Ha! We talk about it all the time. I had the advantage because he played earlier that day. So I knew I needed 58. Fortunately for me, Doug Moe asked the guys if they would help me get the scoring title back, and the guys agreed. To score 20 points in the first quarter after missing my first six shots and then score 33 to break another one of David's records was special for me. I ended up scoring 63 in 33 minutes, which is kind of unheard of in basketball.

SI.com: Your Spurs won three division titles and made three trips to the conference finals. But in the '79 Eastern Conference finals you let a 3-1 lead against Washington Bullets slip away. The next generation of Spurs, led by David Robinson and Tim Duncan, won two titles and are a perennial title contender. Do you like what you see in the Spurs now?

GG: Yeah, I think they've got a good ball club. When you've got a guy like Tim Duncan as the foundation, his personality and his respect for the game really makes them a special team. When we played, we didn't stop people like the current Spurs team can. And that's the difference; that's why they've got two championship rings.

SI.com: Still, you had some pretty good talent, with the likes of Artis Gilmore and Billy Paultz at center --

GG: We also had some great forwards with Larry Kenon and Mike Mitchell. But all kinds of things happened in Washington during that Game 7 in '79 to keep us from winning that game. We were up by about 15 points in the fourth quarter when the lights went out for 12 minutes. It changed the momentum, and they came back to beat us by two or three points.

SI.com: The lights went out for 12 minutes?

GG: That's right. And the guy who is the culprit behind it is the guy who's with us right now, Danny Ferry. He was a kid at that time and he swears up and down that he turned out the lights. So every time I see him I want to hit him in the mouth.

SI.com: That's right! His Dad rean the team.

GG: You got it. It was dirty trick but it worked for them. And for him to be proud of it -- I know he's 6-10 but, man, I'd like to take a few guys and rap him in mouth a couple of times. (laughs)

SI.com: Former Spurs owner Angelo Drossos, may he rest in peace, was a legendary dealmaker who, among other things, pioneered the incentive clause and 3-point shot. Had also bullied the Virginia Squires at the negotiating table and in court to acquire you in '75. During those court battles, you were out of basketball and in a state of limbo. For a while you had to lay low. What was that like?

GG: I remember going to Utah with the Squires, and Angelo sent me ten Western Union telegrams that said I couldn't play for Virginia and that I belonged to the Spurs and that if I played for Virginia they were going to sue me. Drossos was a hard businessman. So I flew from Utah to San Antonio, where I stayed at the Hilton for months without playing -- just waiting on the judge to rule one way or another.

SI.com: Sitting around idle for a whole month must have been pretty weird?

GG: Yeah, man, it was like I was a fugitive from basketball.

SI.com: Drossos once said, "George Gervin was to San Antonio what Babe Ruth was to New York." In 100 years, will visitors to San Antonio say "remember the Alamo" or "remember the Iceman?"

GG: Well, I'm quite sure they'll remember the Alamo but in that same breath they'll remember the Iceman. My impact on this community was something special. It was a small town when first came here -- maybe 500,000 people. Look how we have grown since my playing days. Now it's a basketball Mecca. I'm very proud of my contribution to the San Antonio Spurs and the San Antonio community. I've been with the Spurs for 28 years. I still work in front office. We have two world titles and the team gave me two rings. They made me feel a part of it and I'll always be appreciative


Dave Hollander's book, 52 Weeks, a collection of his interviews with famous sports figures and personal stories about his experiences in sports comes out in Fall 2005 with The Lyons Press.

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