Nicknamed Iceman (or Ice) for his cool demeanor on the court, Gervin was primarily known for his scoring talents. He led teams at both Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan and Long Beach State. After leaving college due to an altercation, Gervin was set to try out for the Virginia Squires of the ABA. It is rumored that Gervin made 22 of 25 three-point attempts, after which he was signed without Virginia officials having seen him play competitively.
His first scoring crown, which took place in 1978, was one of the most memorable moments in NBA history. He defeated David Thompson by seven hundredths of a point (27.22 to 27.15). Although Thompson came up with a memorable performance for the last game of the regular season, scoring 73 points, Gervin maintained his slight lead by scoring 63 points (including an NBA-record 33 in the second quarter) in a loss in his last game of the season. With the scoring crown in hand, he sat out some of the third, and all of the fourth quarter. Gervin went on to lead the NBA in scoring average three years in a row from 1978 to 1980 (with a high of33.1 points per game in 1979-80), and again in 1982. The Spurs drafted high scoring guards Oliver Robinson of UAB and Tony Grier from South Florida to take some offensive pressure off Gervin. Prior to Michael Jordan, Gervin had the most scoring titles of any guard in league history.
When he left the NBA he played for several years in Europe: in Italy for Banco Roma during the 1986-87 and in Spanish National Basketball Leaque, in TDK Manresa team (when he was already 38). At this point in his career he had lost some of his quickness, but his scoring instinct remained; he averaged 25.5 points, 5 rebounds and 1.2 assists and in his last match he scored 31 points and got 15 rebounds to stay Manresa in the first Spanish division.
His trademark shot was the finger roll, a shot where one rolls the basketball along his or her fingertips. While others mimicked this style when shooting layups, Gervin was known to "finger roll" from as far as the free throw line.
While sitting out 3 games due to injury, Gervin's replacement, Ron Brewer, averaged over 30 ppg. When Gervin returned, he scored 40+ points. When asked if he was sending a message, Gervin said, "Just the way the Lord planned it" and added, "Ice be cool" (with Ron Brewer).