|No. 23, 44, 7|
|Position||Point Guard / Shooting Guard|
|Born||June 22, 1947|
|Died||January 5, 1988 (aged 40)|
|Listed height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Listed weight||197 lbs (89 kg)|
|High School||Daniel (Central, South Carolina)|
Broughton (Raleigh, North Carolina)
|NBA Draft||1970 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3rd|
|Selected by the Atlanta Hawks|
|1974–1980||New Orleans / Utah Jazz|
|Career highlights and awards|
Peter Press Maravich (June 22, 1947 – January 5, 1988), or "Pistol Pete", was an American professional basketball player.
Pete was born in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania on June 22, 1947. At an early age, Pete amazed his friends with his basketball skills. He enjoyed a close but demanding father-son relationship that motivated him toward achievement and fame in the sport. Maravich's father, Petar "Press" Maravich, the son of Serbian immigrants and a former professional player-turned-coach, showed him the fundamentals starting when he was seven years old. Obsessively, Maravich would spent hours practicing ball control tricks, passes, head fakes, and long range shots.
The encouragement he got from his dad manifested itself in early success: Maravich played high school varsity ball at Daniel High School in Central, South Carolina a year before being old enough to attend the school. While at Daniel from 1961-63, Maravich participated in the school's first ever game against a team from an all-black school. In 1963 his father departed from his position as head basketball coach at Clemson University and joined the coaching staff at North Carolina State University. The Maravich family's subsequent move to Raleigh, North Carolina allowed Pete to attend Needham B. Broughton High School. His high school years also saw the birth of his famous moniker. From his habit of shooting the ball from his side, as if he were holding a revolver, Maravich became known as "Pistol" Pete Maravich. From there "Pistol" then transferred to Edwards Military Institute where he averaged 33 points per game.
Even though Pete would tell his friends he always wanted to play at West Virginia, his dad was the varsity coach of LSU and offered Pete a spot on the team. In his first game on the LSU freshman team, Maravich put up 50 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists against Southeastern Louisiana College.
In only three years playing for his father, Maravich scored 3,667 points — 1,138 of those in 1968, 1,148 in 1969 and 1,381 in 1970 while averaging 43.8, 44.2 and 44.5 points per game. In his collegiate career, the 6' 5" (1.96 m) guard averaged an incredible 44.2 points per game in 83 contests and led the NCAA in scoring in each of his three seasons.
Maravich's longstanding collegiate scoring record is particularly impressive when two other factors are taken into account:
- First, NCAA rules at the time of Maravich's collegiate career prohibited freshmen from taking part in varsity competition, preventing Maravich from adding to his career record for a full quarter of his time at LSU. During this first year, Maravich scored 741 points in freshman competition.
- Second, Maravich played before the advent of the three-point line. His long-distance shooting skill thus produced far fewer points than would have been the case in a later era. Years later, former LSU head basketball coach Dale Brown charted every college game Maravich played, taking into consideration all shots he took. Brown calculated that at the NCAA rule of a three-point line at 19 feet 9 inches (6.02 m) from the rim, Maravich would have averaged thirteen 3-point scores per game, lifting the player's career average to 57 points per game.
More than 35 years later, many of his NCAA and LSU records still stand. Maravich was a three-time All-American. Though he never appeared in the NCAA tournament, Maravich played a key role in turning around a lackluster program that had posted a 3–20 record in the season prior to his arrival.
Maravich entered the 1970 NBA Draft, and became the 3rd pick from the Atlanta Hawks. He was not a natural fit in Atlanta, as the Hawks already boasted a top-notch scorer at guard in Lou Hudson. In fact, Pistol Pete's flamboyant style stood in stark contrast to the conservative play of Hudson and star center Walt Bellamy. And it did not help that many of the veteran players resented the $1.9 million contract that Maravich received from the team — a very large salary at that time.
Still, the rookie's talent was undeniable. Maravich appeared in 81 games and average 23.2 points per contest — good enough to earn NBA All-Rookie Team honors. And he managed to blend his style with his teammates, so much that Hudson set a career high by scoring 26.8 points per game. But the team stumbled to a 36–46 record — 12 wins less than the previous season. Still, the Hawks qualified for the playoffs, where they lost to the New York Knicks in the first round.
Later life and Death
After injuries forced him to leave basketball in 1980, Maravich became a recluse for 2 years. Through it all, Maravich said he was searching "for life". A few years before his death, Maravich said "I want to be remembered as a Christian, a person that serves Him (Jesus) to the utmost, not as a basketball player.
On January 5, 1988, Maravich collapsed and died at age 40 of heart failure while playing pickup basketball in a gym at First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena, California with a group that included James Dobson.