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On this date: George Gervin and David Thompson battle it out for the 1978 NBA scoring title

The closest race for a scoring title the league has ever seen led to the movie-like final day of the season
George Gervin and David Thompson battle it out for the 1978 NBA scoring title

George Gervin and David Thompson battle it out for the scoring title

Think of the list of underrated scorers who have ever stepped foot on NBA hardwoods. Does your list involve George Gervin and David Thompson? Well, if it doesn't, it definitely should.

The two are the main characters of one of the greatest stories in the league's history. The year was 1978, and Gervin and Thompson were in the run for the league's scoring title. Separated by only 14 points, the two put up two of the greatest scoring displays we've ever seen. 

The craziest final day of the season ever

Thompson's final game of the season was against the Detroit Pistons. And D.T. more than delivered -- he dropped 73 points despite a 139-137 loss on the road. At that time, only Wilt Chamberlain has ever scored more points in a single NBA game.

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Gervin would play later that day. Knowing he needed 58 points to overtake Thompson, he decided to take on the challenge and try doing the impossible.

"My, oh my. I haven't ever hit 58, but I'm going for them."

George Gervin

Believe it or not, Gervin did it. He dropped his career-high of 63 points and even broke Thompson's short-lived record of points scored in a quarter with 33. He scored 53 by halftime, making it obvious he is running away with a scoring title. The final buzzer had sounded, and Gervin's Spurs lost the game. However, it didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was his 63.

All-time great bucket getters

Gervin is 10th on the all-time list of career points per game -- over a 15-season career, The Iceman averaged 25.1 points per game. The most he averaged over a single year was 33.1 in the 78-79 NBA season. Gervin topped 30 PPG one more time in his career and was a consistent elite scorer -- he led the league in scoring four times.

Thompson, on the other hand, didn't have as long of a career as Icemen. After nine years of playing in the NBA, Skywalker retired due to a knee injury. But there was more to it, as Thompson had severe substance abuse problems that cut his career short. Nevertheless, what he did during his NBA years scoring-wise was nothing short of impressive. Thompson is 31st in terms of career scoring average with 22.7 PPG.

This is by far the craziest story in NBA history. Within a few hours, two of the greatest individual scoring performances ever happened, each including a record-breaking quarter in terms of points scored. It was a movie-like ending to the closest race for scoring title ever, with Gervin edging out Thompson 27.22 to 27.15 PPG. It doesn't get better than that.

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