At the peak of his powers, San Antonio Spurs legend George “The Iceman” Gervin dominated the 1980 NBA All-Star Game, which was an overtime thriller.
There were few players who dominated the game for an entire decade the way that San Antonio Spurs star player George Gervin did from 1974-84. With career-averages of 25.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 steals and one block per game, Gervin did it all on both sides of the floor while maintaining a cool demeanor that earned him his legendary nickname: The Iceman.
One of Gervin’s greatest displays of dominance just so happened to come during his best statistical season in the 1979-80 campaign. Selected an All-Star starter in the Eastern Conference, where San Antonio used to play, Gervin was the marquee talent that a group featuring Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Larry Bird and Julius Erving would lean on.
Getting out in transition with blistering speed, Gervin darted up the court on the fastbreak each time out. The 27-year-old superstar played off of dime-dropper Eddie Johnson, who found him for acrobatic layups and mid-range pull up jumpers throughout the contest. The East fed him the ball, giving him 26 field goal attempts in the contest. For reference, the second-most field goal attempts came from all-time great center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had 17 shots.
It’s as if the whole team knew who the No. 1 option would be as Bird ad Erving fed Gervin the ball in transition, resulting in dunks and his signature shot, the finger-roll.
Not only was he active as a scorer, but Gervin tallied a double-double with 10 boards and had some incredible passes in the process. With the game tied at 56-56 in the second quarter, Gervin grabbed a defensive rebound just a few feet from the basket and rocketed a pass reminiscent of Superbowl MVP Patrick Mahomes all the way to the opposite basket, setting Johnson up for an easy layup.
With an 87-77 lead in the third quarter, Utah Jazz star Adrian Dantley barrelled toward the basket and threw up a layup, which was pinned against the backboard by the great Elvin Hayes. The rebound was corralled by Dr. J, who instinctually began running the fastbreak before passing the ball up to Gervin, who threw down a dynamic, one-handed tomahawk to extend the East’s lead.
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However, a fourth-quarter barrage by the West tied the game up late and forced OT. Even with that being the case, the East recovered and extended a lead late in the extra period that was put away with a spectacular play between Bird and Gervin. After running the fastbreak, Bird fought for a loose offense rebound. The ball was tipped out to Bird, who controlled the ball and whipped a no-look pass to Gervin under the basket without touching the ground. As soon as the ball touched his hands, The Iceman put the ball up in one fluid motion and scored a reverse layup
This would be the last basket of the game with the East winning the contest 144-136 in overtime. Gervin was named the 1980 All-Star MVP for posting 34 points on 14-for-26 shooting with 10 boards, three assists and three steals in 40 minutes.
Gervin led San Antonio to a 41-41 record for the fifth seed in the East that season, finishing with remarkable season averages. He posted 33.1 points per game on 52.8 percent shooting from the field along with 5.2 boards, 1.2 steals and a block per game. The Iceman finished third in MVP voting behind Abdul-Jabbar and the aforementioned Dr. J.
Even though San Antonio wasn’t able to get it done in the playoffs that year, the world will always remember just how remarkable The Iceman was the height of his powers.