YPSILANTI — Whether leading the Eastern Michigan University men's basketball team to the Final Four or pouring in more than 25,000 points as a professional, George Gervin often stood tall on the court. Now, his likeness will stand tall outside the arena bearing his name.
A statue depicting The Ice Man and his signature finger roll was unveiled outside the George Gervin GameAbove Center on Aug. 31, with Gervin and his family on hand for the ceremony. The solid bronze statue and its base measure 16-foot-8 from the ground to the top of the basketball in his hand.
"To look at myself now and see how far time has went by, and I have a statue now at a beautiful university that I can see, and the world can see," mentioned Gervin. "There ain't nothing like it. I'm thankful."
The statue was crafted in Boise, Idaho, by Ben Victor before being transported to Ypsilanti where a base of granite was created specifically for the statue. Victor's creation features Gervin standing 11-foot-8 with a one-foot bronze cone connecting the statue to a four-foot granite base. All told, from inception to installation, the entire project took nearly 20 months.
"It takes your breath away," EMU President Dr. James Smith added. "It's really spectacular, and, as George says, it looks just like him when we have photos from when he played. And, of course, his cute line, 'I'm still handsome'."
One of the all-time EMU greats, Gervin led the then-Hurons to the 1972 NCAA College Division Tournament Final Four as he averaged 29.5 points and 15.3 rebounds on the year. In his two-year career in Ypsilanti, the Detroit native scored 1,044 points and pulled down 562 rebounds. Following the 1971-72 season, he was named NCAA College Division First Team All-American by United Press International and the National Basketball Coaches Association.
Following his time with EMU, Gervin went on to star in both the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1996, Gervin was selected one of the top 50 and top 75 players in NBA history. The NBA's Player of the Year in 1977-78, he scored more than 25,000 points during career and was named an NBA All-Star six times.
Gervin's No. 24 jersey was retired at EMU Jan. 17, 1986, and was the first retired in program history. Then, on Dec. 11, 2021, the Eagles captured a 92-88 victory over Florida International University in quadruple overtime inside the facility that saw its name changed that day from the Convocation Center to the George Gervin GameAbove Center.
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About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.