George Gervin Won By The Slimmest of Margins on the Last Day of the Season

Published on April 11th, 2024 11:55 am EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

The 1978 scoring title showdown.  George Gervin - San Antonio Spurs. For long-time fans of the NBA, April 9th, 1978 is a day that will live forever in history.

On this day, two men - George Gervin and David Thompson - battled it out in the closest scoring race in NBA history.

David Thompson of the Denver Nuggets went into the last game of the season trailing George Gervin for the scoring title.

Teams were preparing for the playoffs or getting ready to go home. A few thousand people turned out to the Cobo Arena in Detroit to watch the Pistons/Nuggets game, which might have seemed meaningless at first glance.

Before the game, the coach of the Denver Nuggets asked Thompson one very important question:

"Do you want to go for it today?"

Thompson answered in the affirmative. He was going to go for the scoring title.


Thompson would turn in one of the greatest performances in NBA history that night, as he would score a whopping 73 points.

This included going 28-38 from the field, with 17 made free throws. Thompson would set a NBA record by scoring 32 points in a single quarter.

Thompson played 43 out of 48 minutes, as he wanted to put as much distance as he could between himself and Gervin, who was playing later that night.


Gervin would play later that evening in a game against New Orleans.

In order to claim the scoring title, Gervin would need to put up 59 points - certainly no small task.

Seeing how much the Nuggets had played Thompson, the Spurs did the same with Gervin. They fed him the ball at every opportunity, and made sure that he had the minutes to make a run at the title.

With Thompson listening in on a radio station, Gervin proceeded to put up 53 points in the FIRST HALF of the game. This included 33 points in the second quarter, which broke the record that Thompson had set earlier in the day.

Thompson knew that he was toast heading into the second half.

Sure enough, with just 300 fans in attendance, Gervin scored another 10 points in the second half to finish the night with 63 points.

Gervin had won the scoring title in the closest race in NBA history.


In the end, Gervin and Thompson finished the season with 27.2 points per game each.

This was truly a scoring race that NBA historians will never forget.

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