Story of the Week
In May of 1987, Pete Maravich was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, a tribute to his efforts as a pro that included a 24.2 scoring average, and one league scoring championship. But it was as a player at Louisiana State University that he truly sparkled.
For three straight seasons, between 1967 and 1970, he led the nation in scoring while performing under the coaching of his father, Press Maravich. In acquiring the nickname Pistol for his penchant for shooting the ball, he amassed 3,667 points in college for an incredible average of 44.2 over 83 games. A 6-foot-5-inch guard, Maravich was an enormous drawing card.
Maravich scored more than 50 points in a game 28 times. He hit 69 points against Alabama in 1970, his collegiate high-point. Pete averaged 38 shots per game, of which 17+ hit the mark, but he also had the knack of brilliant ball-handling, dribbling, and passing. "Shooting is nothing," he once said in an interview. "Anybody can shoot the ball. The big charge is putting on a show for the crowd." Pete was a showman of the first order.
Peter Maravich was born in 1947 in Aliquippa, PA., while his father was playing pro basketball for the Pittsburgh Ironmen. He grew up in the Carolinas before moving on to LSU.
After his college career, Maravich took advantage of a bidding war between the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and the Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association to get a five-year contract with Atlanta worth a reported $1.6 million, the richest contract for a rookie to that time.
As in college, he never played for a championship team in the pros, and his 10 pro seasons never surpassed the ones at LSU. Still, he won the NBA scoring championship in 1977 when he averaged 31.1 points a game for the New Orleans Jazz. The next season, he suffered a knee injury that dogged him until his retirement in the fall of 1980 after he was released by the Boston Celtics.
After leaving basketball, Maravich was involved in work within the religious community, and as a basketball broadcaster. He also ran basketball camps near his home in Covington, Louisiana.
On January 5, 1988, at the age of 40, Maravich collapsed after suffering a heart attach during a half-court pickup game with friends. He died an hour later. I remember Pete Maravich as one of the most colorful and talented players in basketball history.
Last Week’s Trivia
What Dodger scored ahead of Kirk Gibson on that 1988 World Series homer against Oakland? It was Mike Davis.
Trivia Question of the Week
Yards don’t win football games; points do. The New England Patriots did a couple of things in 2001 that justify that statement. What? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.