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Pete Maravich: From Basketball To Jesus

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I'm a big time sports fan. I am a fan of the Packers since 1967, Cubs and Celtics since 1969 and Indiana Pacers since 1970.

Pete Maravich AT LSU

source:petemaravich.com

source:petemaravich.com

The Beginning

Pete Maravich was an amazing basketball player with an amazing story.

Pete Maravich was born on June 22, 1947. His dad, Press Maravich, briefly played in the NBA during the 1946-47 season. He went on to coach college basketball at various schools, including LSU where he coached his son Pete.

"Pistol" Pete Maravich

Pete Maravich loved basketball from an early age. Maravich always had a basketball in his hands. He would dribble constantly. He even slept with a basketball.

With the help of his dad, Pete learned basic basketball techniques. He quickly mastered those and became bored. He then developed some of his own ideas for training and practice.

Pete was not very strong as a child, but he could handle the basketball. Due to his lack of strength, he developed a habit of shooting the ball from his side. The fact that he was successful prompted the nickname "Pistol Pete".

Pete Maravich in 1970

source: ncaa.com

source: ncaa.com

A High School Basketball Player

Maravich was a very talented player. He began playing varsity as a freshman. Due to his lack of size (he was only 5'3" tall at the time) and the fact that he was only a freshman, he had to prove to his teammates that he could play.

His teammates did not accept him right away even though he played well. The main reason was because his passing skills were unbelievable. He would throw passes that players did not even attempt at that time. His teammates were not ready for the passes and it would turn in to a turnover. His coach also would get on him to play fundamental basketball, however, by this time Pete had a tough time NOT showboating. If he could make a behind the back pass, he would do it.

His teammates finally started being ready for the passes and he was well accepted. The fans loved his showboating. Dribbling between the legs, behind the back passes. This was the 1960's and only the Harlem Globetrotters and Bob Cousy would make those kind of passes.

The College Years

By the time Maravich was a senior in High School, had had grown to 6'4" tall.

Maravich selected LSU as his college. He was a freshman in 1966-67 and at that time, colleges did not allow freshmen on their basketball teams. Each school would have a separate team for freshmen. It was similar to High School when teams would have a Junior Varsity and Varsity team.

In his first game on the Freshman team, Maravich scored 50 points, had 14 rebounds and 11 assists.

The next 3 seasons Maravich amazed fans at LSU. Pete's dad, Press followed Pete to LSU and was the head coach. LSU was just an average team in his Sophomore and Junior seasons as they posted records of 14-12 and 13-13 respectively. In his Senior year, LSU posted a 22-10 record and appeared in the NIT which was a more prestigious tournament than it is today. LSU made it to the Final Four of the NIT before losing. They then lost the game for 3rd place to the Bob Knight coached Army Black Knights.


Pete Maravich In Action

A Scoring Machine

Maravich lived up to his nickname of "Pistol Pete" while he was in college. The ABA was a new league and the 3 point shot was a new idea. The NBA as well as colleges had no interest in adding a 3 point shot to their game, so Maravich's points all came without the 3 point shot.

Maravich averaged 43.8 points per game as a Sophomore. He proceeded to average 44.2 and 44.5 points per game as a Junior and Senior. If there had been a 3 point shot at the time, he would have easily averaged over 50 points per game.

Looking at his scoring average, many may think that Maravich was a selfish player. That was not the case, he averaged 4.0; 4.9 and 6.2 assists per game in his 3 seasons at LSU.

Maravich in the NBA

With a college career as good as what Maravich had, you would think that he would be the #1 pick in the NBA draft. That was not the case, Maravich was selected third. Bob Lanier for St. Bonaventure was selected first. Lanier went on to a very successful NBA career where he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Rudy Tomjanovich was selected second. Tomjanovich also had a successful NBA career averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds per game. Neither pick was a bad selection.

Maravich was selected by the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks were not a very good team, they finished over .500 only once in the four years Maravich played there.

In 1974 the NBA expanded and added the New Orleans Jazz. The Atlanta Hawks did not protect Maravich in the expansion draft and New Orleans snatched him up quickly. Being on an expansion team meant many more bad teams for Maravich. The Jazz never made the playoffs in Maravich's five years there. In 1979 the New Orleans Jazz relocated to Utah. They still did not make the playoffs.



Pete Maravich In the NBA

source: likethedew.com

source: likethedew.com

Scoring In The NBA

While Maravich did not score 44 points per game like he did in college, he still was a good scorer in the NBA. In the 1976-77 season, Maravich led the league in scoring at 31.1 points per game. In seven of his first eight seasons in the NBA, he averaged over 20 points per game. He also appeared in five all-star games.

Maravich also was good at handing out assists s he averaged 5 assists or more in seven of his first eight seasons. He continued having trouble with his teammates being ready for his passes. Many times he would make amazing passes only to have his teammates not expect it and fumble to ball.


Pete Maravich Highest Scoring NBA Games

DatePointsOpponent

02/25/77

68

New York Knicks

03/18/77

51

Phoenix Suns

12/14/76

51

Kansas City-Omaha Kings

12/26/76

50

Washingotn Bullets

02/05/72

50

Cleveland Cavaliers

1/16/72

50

Philadelphia 76er's

The Final Season

Maravich began the 1979-80 season with the Utah Jazz. On January 17, 1980, the Utah Jazz placed Maravich on waivers. On January 22, 1980, Maravich signed with the Boston Celtics.

Maravich was finally on a winning team! Maravich was near the end of his career, but the Celtics were a legendary franchise that was just beginning the Larry Bird era. The Celtics finished 60-22 and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. This was easily the best team that Maravich had ever played on. Unfortunately, he was nearing the end of his career and was limited to a role coming off of the bench.

The Celtics waived Mravich in the summer of 1980, which ended his basketball career...sort of.

Finding Jesus

Maravich was searching his entire life for something. He thought if he scored more points, won more games, made an all-star team, had more money or won a championship he would be happy.

He tried various outlets looking for happiness. Drugs, alcohol and he even tried Ufology.

In November 1982, he struggled to fall asleep. He kept thinking about his life and all the things he had done. He had put on a basketball camp for the Campus Crusade for Christ in California several years ago. For three days he heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It had no impact at the time, but now it hit him. He had decided to give his life to Jesus.

For the next five years, Maravich traveled the country putting on basketball clinics, playing pick up basketball games and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

He had finally found the happiness that he had been searching for his entire life.

On January 5, 1988, Maravich was playing a pick up game at a church in Pasadena, California. They decided to take a short break and Maravich collapsed. He died about an hour later.

It was discovered that Maravich had a rare heart condition, it was a miracle that he had lived this long, let alone the fact that he was able to be a professional athlete.

It is sad that Maravich died at the young age of 40, but on the other hand it is a happy situation because he was able to find Jesus prior to his death.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Art West