Over the course of the two decades, from 1958 to 1976, multiple legends of the game have made their NBA debut on October 22nd and 1976 was arguably the most memorable.
First up, Julius Erving - the only player ever to win the MVP award in the NBA and the ABA - debuted for the Philadelphia 76ers, just a couple of days after the franchise acquired him from the New York Nets.
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Playing just 16 minutes, he finished with 17 points in a 121-118 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, who were making their NBA debut being one of the four ABA teams who joined the league as a result of the ABA-NBA merger. On the Spurs, another ABA and NBA superstar, George Gervin was making his debut. He racked up 19 points, six rebounds, and two assists in 29 minutes of action.
That's not all. Another quintet of Hall of Famers made their debut on that day in 1976 - David Thompson, Artis Gilmore, Bobby Jones, Dan Issel, and Robert Parish. Among the five, Gilmore - an ABA superstar - had, by far, the best debut. He finished with a 21-point, 18-rebound double-double for the Chicago Bulls.
Thompson, Jones and Issell debut together for the Denver Nuggets, in a 123-110 win over the Indiana Pacers. Thompson finished with 19 points, Jones contributed across the board with 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists, while Issel scored a game-high 30.
Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens scored eight points on NBA debut, as a member of the St. Louis Hawks, in a 112-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
A couple of Hall of Famers in Elgin Baylor and Wayne Embry made their NBA debut facing-off against each other while representing the Minneapolis Lakers (now, Los Angeles Lakers) and the Cincinnati Royals respectively.
Baylor dominated with 25 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in a 99-79 blowout win for the Lakers while Embry failed to score on debut, going 0-of-7 from the field.
On Oct 22nd in 1957, Sam Jones' legendary career began in a 115-90 win over the St. Louis Hawks. Although he failed to score on debut, he went on to become an integral part of the Celtics dynasty, winning 10 NBA titles - second only to Bill Russell's 11.
Game-winners on Oct. 22nd
Andrew Wiggins vs. Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017
Marques Johnson vs. Golden State Warriors in 1978
Rich Jones vs. Golden State Warriors in 1976
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