George Gervin had his all-time record for points scored in a quarter broken by Klay Thompson last Friday. Gervin scored 33 in a quarter in 1978, and Thompson managed 37 in one of the most impressive shooting displays in recent memory.
Gervin, though, doesn't think it's fair to say Thompson topped him. The Golden State Warriors guard made nine 3-pointers in that quarter, also an NBA record, and Gervin made none of them. That was because the league only introduced the 3 a year later. From Bleacher Report's Howard Beck:
The 62-year-old Gervin had two immediate reactions when he learned of Thompson's incredible feat.
First: "I said, 'Wowwwww, that's pretty impressive.'"
Then: "But I'd like to see him try to get 33 or 37 in a quarter when there wasn't no three-point line."
"I don't feel—and it's funny, everybody laughs—I don't feel he broke my record," Gervin told Bleacher Report in a phone interview. "I feel he set a new record. He set a new record for the new NBA."
He paused again to break into another contagious chuckle.
"Think about it, man," Gervin said. "That's like if we're going to have a race, and you start on the 50-yard line and I start on the 1-yard line and we're doing a 100-yard race. It's not even."
Gervin added that, "In the system I played, my record will never be broken." Which is true, I suppose. And it's worth noting that his laughter throughout the interview is continously referenced -- Beck also pointed out on Twitter that Gervin said he loves watching Thompson and fellow Splash Brother Stephen Curry. So it's not as if this is a grumpy old-timer who thinks all modern players are inferior.
Still, if we're in the business of comparing and contrasting, I'd argue that context is important in both scenarios. As is noted in the story, Gervin's scoring exhibition was a part of the race for the scoring title. It was the last day of the season, and he was neck-and-neck with David Thompson. That day, the record in question was actually set twice -- David Thompson scored 32 points in the first quarter and ended up with 73 in his game. Hours later, Gervin knew he needed 58 points to overtake him. His San Antonio Spurs teammates were trying to help him do it. He did, finishing with 63, but the Spurs lost 153-132 to the New Orleans Jazz. David Thompson was listening on the radio, but turned it off when Gervin had 53 points by halftime.
Now, let's look at Klay Thompson's outburst. He had only made three of his nine field goal attempts in the first half. The game was tied just before he hit his first shot of the third quarter. The Warriors began to feed him the ball every time down the floor because he was making literally every shot -- he went 13-for-13 in the period -- and not because he was chasing an individual accomplishment unrelated to the competition at hand. The Warriors won in a blowout because Thompson exploded, and the explosion happened in the middle of a competitive game. I don't know how you weigh that against the fact that Gervin didn't have the 3-point line at his disposal, but it's worth taking into consideration.