Pete Maravich Unisex T-Shirt
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Pistol Pete – The Life and Times of Pete Maravich HD
Peter Press Maravich (Serbian Cyrillic: Петар Маравић; June 22, 1947 – January 5, 1988), known by his nickname Pistol Pete, was an American professional basketball player. Maravich was born in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, and raised in the Carolinas. Maravich starred in college with the LSU Tigers while playing for his father, head coach Press Maravich. He is the all-time leading NCAA Division I scorer with 3,667 points scored and an average of 44.2 points per game. All of his accomplishments were achieved before the adoption of the three-point line and shot clock, and despite being unable to play varsity as a freshman under then-NCAA rules. He played for three National Basketball Association (NBA) teams until injuries forced his retirement in 1980 following a 10-year professional career.
One of the youngest players ever inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Maravich was considered to be one of the greatest creative offensive talents ever and one of the best ball handlers of all time. He died suddenly at age 40 during a pick-up game in 1988 as a consequence of an undetected heart defect.
“Pistol” Pete Maravich (The Innovator of Showmanship) NBA Legends
The Atlanta Hawks selected Maravich with the third pick in the first round of the 1970 NBA draft, where he played for coach Richie Guerin. He was not a natural fit in Atlanta, as the Hawks already boasted a top-notch scorer at the guard position in Lou Hudson. In fact, Maravich’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.
Maravich appeared in 81 games and averaged 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 so that Hudson set a career high by scoring 26.8 points per game. But the team stumbled to a 36–46 record—12 wins fewer than in the previous season. Still, the Hawks qualified for the playoffs, where they lost to the New York Knicks in the first round.
Maravich struggled somewhat during his second season. His scoring average dipped to 19.3 points per game, and the Hawks finished with another disappointing 36–46 record. Once again they qualified for the playoffs, and once again they were eliminated in the first round. However, Atlanta fought hard against the Boston Celtics, with Maravich averaging 27.7 points in the series.
Maravich erupted in his third season, averaging 26.1 points (5th in the NBA) and dishing out 6.9 assists per game (6th in the NBA). With 2,063 points, he combined with Hudson (2,029 points) to become only the second set of teammates in league history to each score over 2,000 points in a single season. The Hawks soared to a 46–36 record, but again bowed out in the first round of the playoffs. However, the season was good enough to earn Maravich his first-ever appearance in the NBA All-Star Game, and also All-NBA Second Team honors.
The following season (1973–74) was his best yet—at least in terms of individual accomplishments. Maravich posted 27.7 points per game—second in the league behind Bob McAdoo—and earned his second appearance in the All-Star Game. However, Atlanta sank to a disappointing 35–47 record and missed the postseason entirely.
New Orleans Jazz
In the summer of 1974, an expansion franchise was preparing for its first season of competition in the NBA. The New Orleans Jazz were looking for something or someone to generate excitement among their new basketball fans. With his exciting style of play, Maravich was seen as the perfect man for the job. Additionally, he was already a celebrity in the state due to his accomplishments at LSU. To acquire Maravich, the Jazz traded two players and four draft picks to Atlanta.
The expansion team struggled mightily in its first season. Maravich managed to score 21.5 points per game, but shot a career-worst 41.9 percent from the floor. The Jazz posted a 23–59 record, worst in the NBA.
Jazz management did its best to give Maravich a better supporting cast. The team posted a 38–44 record in its second season (1975–76) but did not qualify for postseason play, despite the dramatic improvement. Maravich struggled with injuries that limited him to just 62 games that season, but he averaged 25.9 points per contest (third behind McAdoo and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and continued his crowd-pleasing antics. He was elected to the All-NBA First Team that year.
The following season (1976–77) was his most productive in the NBA. He led the league in scoring with an average of 31.1 points per game. He scored 40 points or more in 13 games, and 50 or more in 4 games. His 68-point masterpiece against the Knicks was at the time the most points ever scored by a guard in a single game, and only two players at any position had ever scored more: Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor. Baylor was head coach of the Jazz at that time.
Maravich earned his third all-star game appearance and was honored as All-NBA First Team for the second consecutive season.
The following season, injuries to both knees forced him to miss 32 games during the 1977–78 season. Despite being robbed of some quickness and athleticism, he still managed to score 27.0 points per game, and he also added 6.7 assists per contest, his highest average as a member of the Jazz. Many of those assists went to new teammate Truck Robinson, who had joined the franchise as a free agent during the off-season. In his first year in New Orleans, he averaged 22.7 points and a league-best 15.7 rebounds per game. His presence prevented opponents from focusing their defensive efforts entirely on Maravich, and it lifted the Jazz to a 39–43 record—just short of making the club’s first-ever appearance in the playoffs.
Knee problems plagued Maravich for the rest of his career. He played in just 49 games during the 1978–79 season. He scored 22.6 points per game that season and earned his fifth and final All-Star appearance. But his scoring and passing abilities were severely impaired. The team struggled on the court, and faced serious financial trouble as well. Management became desperate to make some changes. The Jazz traded Robinson to the Phoenix Suns, receiving draft picks and some cash in return. However, in 1979, team owner Sam Battistone moved the Jazz to Salt Lake City.
The Utah Jazz began play in the 1979–80 season. Maravich moved with the team to Salt Lake City, but his knee problems were worse than ever. He appeared in 17 games early in the season, but his injuries prevented him from practicing much, and new coach Tom Nissalke had a strict rule that players who didn’t practice were not allowed to play in games. Thus, Maravich was parked on the bench for 24 straight games, much to the dismay of Utah fans and to Maravich himself. During that time, Adrian Dantley emerged as the team’s franchise player.
The Jazz placed Maravich on waivers in January 1980. He signed with the Celtics, the top team in the league that year, led by rookie superstar Larry Bird. Maravich adjusted to a new role as part-time contributor, giving Boston a “hired gun” off the bench. He helped the team post a 61–21 record in the regular season, best in the league. And, for the first time since his early career in Atlanta, Maravich was able to participate in the NBA playoffs. He appeared in nine games during that postseason, but the Celtics were upended by Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference finals, four games to one.
Realizing that his knee problems would never go away, Maravich retired at the end of that season. The NBA instituted the 3-point shot just in time for Maravich’s last season in the league. He had always been famous for his long-range shooting, and his final year provided an official statistical gauge of his abilities. Between his limited playing time in Utah and Boston, he made 10 of 15 3-point shots, giving him a career 66.7% completion rate behind the arc.
During his ten-year career in the NBA, Maravich played in 658 games, averaging 24.2 points and 5.4 assists per contest. In 1987, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and his No. 7 jersey has been retired by both the Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans, as well as his No. 44 jersey by the Atlanta Hawks.
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