Peter Maravich Biography
"Pistol" Pete Maravich was one of the NBA's best showman during his 10-year career from 1970-1980. Maravich was selected to five All-Star Games and was twice named to the All-NBA first team, but it was his flashy playing style for which he's most remembered.
Known for his "playground" style, circus shots and acrobatic passes, Maravich was one of the first players to dribble behind his back and make passes between his legs.
He was also a prolific scorer. He averaged 24.2 points per game, and in 1976-77, he led the league in scoring with 31.1 ppg.
At LSU, Maravich became one of the greatest scorers and players ever in the college game. To this day, he holds nearly every NCAA scoring record, including most career points (3,667), highest career scoring average (44.2 ppg), most field goals made (1,387) and attempted (3,166), and most career 50-point games (28). All were accomplished without the benefit of the 3-point line and being prohibited from playing on the varsity team his first year because of an NCAA rule that barred freshmen.
Maravich was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987 at age 39, becoming one of the youngest players to ever be inducted. He was named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.
Maravich was born on June 22, 1947 in Alquippa, Pa. His father, Press Maravich, had been a guard with the Youngstown Bears of the National Basketball League from 1945-46 and with the Pittsburgh Ironmen of the Basketball Association of America in 1946-47, and he began teaching Pete basketball fundamentals when he was seven years old.
Maravich soon became a gym rat and would spend hours practicing his dribbling, passes and long-range shots.
Maravich went on to have a successful high school career, playing for Daniel High School in South Carolina from 1961-63 and Needham B. Broughton High School in North Carolina in 1964. It was during this time that he received the nickname "Pistol," for his uncommon shooting style that some said looked like he was a shooting a pistol.
Despite desires to play at West Virginia, Maravich accepted a scholarship to LSU to play under his father, who had recently accepted the head-coaching position.
Unable to play on the varsity team because of an NCAA rule that disallowed freshmen, Pete Maravich played the 1966-67 season on the freshmen team, averaging 43.6 ppg.
Maravich didn't slow down when he reached the varsity level, leading the nation in scoring with 43.8 ppg. He also helped lift the Tigers, who went 3-23 the previous season, over the .500 mark for the first time in five seasons.
Over his final three seasons, Maravich would break nearly every major NCAA scoring record, including most career points (3,667), highest career scoring average (44.2 ppg), most field goals made (1,387) and attempted (3,166), and most career 50-point games (28).
As a senior in 1969-70, Maravich earned College Player of the Year honors after scoring 50 or more in 10 games and setting an NCAA for most points (1,381) and scoring average (44.5).
Atlanta Hawks (1970-1974)
The Atlanta Hawks selected Maravich with the third overall pick in the 1970 NBA draft and signed him to a $1.9 million, a large some at that was resented by some of his teammates. Like in college, he made an instant impact, averaging 23.2 ppg (ninth-best in the NBA) and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He also quickly became popular for his entertaining, flamboyant style of play. The Hawks finished the season 36-46 and lost to the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.
Maravich missed 16 games in 1971-72 and his scoring average fell to 19.3 ppg. But he bounced back the following season, averaging 26.1 ppg (fourth-best in the league) and 6.9 assists (sixth best) and earning All-Star and All-NBA second team honors. Atlanta finished 46-36 and was again bounced from the playoffs in the second round.
Maravich had an even better season in 1973-74, scoring 27.7 ppg and being named to his second All-Star Game.
New Orleans Jazz (1974-1979)
The New Orleans Jazz, in their inaugural season, traded two players and four future draft picks to bring Maravich back to Louisiana during the 1974 offseason.
His scoring slipped a bit in his first season in New Orleans, as he scored 21.5 ppg on a career-low 42 percent field-goal percentage. But he finished the season with career highs in rebounds and steals as the Jazz stumbled to a league-worst 23-59 record.
Over the next few seasons in New Orleans, Maravich was at the peak of his game. His flashy moves were a sight to behold, and with key additions, such as Leonard "Truck" Robinson, Maravich had more freedom to display his creative shooting and jaw-dropping passes.
After earning All-NBA first team distinction in 1975-76, Pistol scored a career-high 31.1 ppg over 73 games in 1976-77. He led the league in total points (2,273), field goals attempted (2,074) and free throws made (501). He also scored 40 points or more in 13 games and had 68 points on Feb. 25 against Walt Frazier and the Knicks, the 11th-highest single-game total in NBA history.
But despite lighting up the scoreboard and delighting crowds with his flashy style, Maravich could never help lift the Jazz into title contention. Eventually, critics began to label him as a player who put himself before the team. Because he honed his skills in solitude, some argued, he was better playing alone than with teammates.
In 1977-78, Maravich landed awkwardly after trying to throw a between-the-legs pass down the court and tore his knee. A combination of surgery, a bacterial infection and tendinitis would force him to miss 32 games and would also severally hinder his mobility for his final playing years.
Although his scoring numbers diminished some, he made two All-Star appearances over the next two seasons. But he was limited to 99 games in that span because of injuries and the Jazz again failed to make the playoffs.
With fan interest waning in New Orleans, the Jazz moved to Utah in 1979. With Adrian Dantley as their new featured scorer, the team waived Maravich after 17 games.
Boston Celtics (1979-80)
Five days after being waived by the Jazz, Maravich was picked up by the Boston Celtics, then the top team in the league.
Despite concerns that his freewheeling style wouldn't fit with the team-orientated Celtics, Maravich adapted well to a part-time role. He averaged 11.5 ppg in 26 games and 6.0 ppg in the playoffs as Boston reached the Eastern Conference finals.
With his troublesome knees still an issue, Maravich retired after the season, ending his career after 10 seasons.
After basketball, Maravich became interested in the practices of yoga and Hinduism. He also explored vegetarianism and macrobiotics, and took interest in ufology.
His jersey was retired by the Jazz in 1985.
On Jan. 5, 1988, Maravich died of a heart attack during a pickup game of California at the age of 40. An autopsy revealed an undetected congenital heart defect.
He and his wife had two sons, Jason and Josh. Both went on to play college basketball, Josh at LSU.