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NBA 75 Series: #66 Pete Maravich

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

Ranked #66 in my 75 Greatest NBA Players of All Time is the legendary “Pistol” Pete Maravich. Maravich was born on June 22, 1947 in Aliquippa, Pa to his mother Helen Maravich and father Press Maravich and passed away on Jan.5, 1988. Growing up, Maravich would work countless hours on his ball handling skills and shooting ability that would define his legendary career.

His father, who was a former professional player himself and coached college basketball at Clemson, North Carolina State, and LSU, instilled the urge in him to want to excel from a young age, dribbling all over the place while riding a bike, marathon runs, and out the window of the passenger seat of the car.

Maravich would go on to play his high school varsity ball at Daniel High School in Central, South Carolina. He would play there from 1961-63 and would then play at Needham B. Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina where he would graduate in 1965 and then attended Edwards Military Institute, where he averaged 33 points per game.

His father was extremely protective over him and would guard him of any issue that may come his way during his adolescence. His father even threatened to shoot him if he got into trouble or drank. By the time he entered college at LSU to go play for his father he was a legit 6-foot-5 inches, which was huge for a guard at the time.

Maravich’s college career was the stuff of legend and arguably the greatest of all time, becoming the all-time scoring leader in NCAA history with 3,667 career points. He led all college scorers for those three years, averaging an NCAA record that will stand the test of time, 44.5 points per game as a senior in 1969-70 while averaging 43.8 and 44.2 the years prior. He was a three-time All-American and sadly never reached the NCAA tournament due to a lack of team success despite his historic numbers.

He would then go on to get selected third overall in the 1970 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks which was a terrible fit as they already had an All-Star scoring guard in Lou Hudson and his play-style was a stark contrast from Hudson and star center Walt Bellamy. It also didn’t help that the veterans on the team at the time resented the $1.9 million contract Maravich received at the time, which was a very large amount during the 1970s.

He would appear in 81 games as a rookie while averaging 23.2 points per game to earn All-Rookie First Team honors. He made his teammates to by helding Hudson set a career high in scoring that season with 26.8 points per game. The team made the playoffs his rookie year but fell to the New York Knicks, but he showed what he was capable of becoming.

His second year he had a slump in scoring by averaging just 19.3 points per game but then his third season he catapulted, averaging 26.1 points per game (5th in NBA) and dishing out 6.9 assists per game (6th in NBA). His team went 46-36 that season but was bounced out in the first round of the playoffs once again. However, he did make his first All-Star appearance.

Maravich would eventually go on to play for the New Orleans Jazz and Boston Celtics before he retired and was unfortunate his teams never had much playoff success despite his showmanlike brilliance on the basketball court.

But overall, Maravich would have definitely been more valuable and benefited from the pace and how wide open the game is today. He was ahead of his time with his marvelous dribbling like Kyrie Irving and the flashy passing you see today in a young star like LaMelo Ball. That’s how special he was.

He only played 10 seasons as a member of the Hawks, Jazz, and Celtics, but was never able to have true playoff success and was in some unfortunate situations, such as with the Hawks and Jazz. He would also win a scoring title with the Jazz when he averaged 31.1 points per game in 1977. He was a four-time All-NBA Selection and was a member of the 50th and 75th anniversary team and helped to completely transform the game of basketball with his magical ball handling, to his brilliant passing.


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