George Gervin, Mike Mitchell, Johnnie Moore: San Antonio Spurs of Distinction
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As a youth in our hometown, my oldest brother had the pleasure of meeting Detroit native and NBA Hall of Famer George “The Iceman” Gervin.
While Mr. Gervin is known for his superlative finger roll shot, my brother still has vivid memories of seeing this wonderful humanitarian sink long-range jump shot after long-range missile without missing.
Gervin was part of a touring group of NBA players, which included Darryl Griffith.
When they came to our neighborhood’s gym for a shooting exhibition and autograph signing, it was considered a hero-like homecoming for Gervin.
I saw Gervin at an Alamo Heights supermarket, and I asked him if he remembered touring with other NBA players, and he did.
He currently owns a bar at the San Antonio International Airport, and he also helped to build an educational academy that bears his name in San Antonio.
Unlike some of these Spurs fans, the man personifies class to the fullest degree.
Speaking of class, when I first met 6-foot-7 Mike Mitchell, he was so down to earth that I could not believe he was a former NBA player.
Mitchell is so cool that maybe he should have been nicknamed Iceman II.
He averaged 21.0 points per season while Gervin averaged 32.3 to lead the NBA in scoring in 1981-1982. The NBA was a national afterthought then for the most part.
The Larry Bird-Magic Johnson rivalry was in its infancy and those were the days of tape delay for the NBA Finals broadcast.
During that season, both Gervin and Mitchell benefited from the adept passing of NBA assist leader Mr. Johnnie Moore.
I have not had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Moore, but I would like to do a sit-down interview with all three of these men of distinction in the same room.
In 1981-1982, the trio helped the Spurs to average 113 points per game, second in the NBA to the high-energy Denver Nuggets who featured Hall of Famer Alex English.
English is still Denver’s all-time leading scorer.
In one game against the Spurs, the teams combined for an incredible 337 total points.
The Spurs eked out the win 171-166 at the old Hemisfair Arena.
Unfortunately for Gervin, Mitchell, and Moore, the mighty Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s swept them in the Western Conference Finals in 1982.
The Lakers were led by new head coach Pat Riley who replaced the fired Paul Westhead only 11 games into the 1981-1982 campaign.
Philly was led by a certain doctor of distinction named Julius Winfield Erving II.
It was the second time in three seasons that the Lakers won the NBA championship by beating the vaunted 76ers.
Rookie Ervin “Magic” Johnson had single-handedly flattened them in the 1980 Finals.
In 1982’s NBA player selection process, the Lakers acquired Hall of Famer James Worthy with the first overall pick, and the “Showtime” team immediately drew the ire of the entire league.
Fans wondered if any other team could compete with this bunch of future Hall of Famers captained by the NBA’s future all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Fans were right, the Lakers advanced to the 1983 NBA Finals by defeating the Portland Trailblazers and the Spurs in the first two rounds.
In a Lakers sort of way, I wish that Gervin, Mitchell, and Moore, along with Artis “The A-Train” Gilmore could have won a championship title.
Yet I do bleed absolutely royal purple and gold.
Maybe literally after some of my local Spurs fans haters read this piece.
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