Pete Essay, Research Paper
Peter Press Maravich is arguably one of the best basketball players ever to play the game. Born June 22, 1947 in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania where he learned to love basketball from his father, Press Maravich, who spent many hours teaching him the game s most important fundamentals. Maravich broke numerous records throughout his career. While in high school he scored 47 points, more than any other player, in the North Carolina High School All-Star Game. He holds nearly every National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) scoring record at Louisiana State University (LSU) and was named a three-time All American in only three years in the NCAA. After a legendary college career at LSU, he played ten great seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA), earning five trips to the NBA All-Star Game and one league scoring title. After his death, he was named to the NBA s Top 50 Greatest Players of All Time and was inducted to the Hall of Fame. I feel, as a player, for anyone to accomplish so much in such a short period of time is remarkable. During Maravich s career the three-point line was not yet a part of professional basketball, so he accomplished all this without the three point line. Maravich is without question one of the greatest offensive basketball players ever to play the game.
Maravich got his nickname Pistol Pete from his father. Once referring to his style of shooting during his childhood and as a high school player, Pistol quickly developed into an offensive machine with great
shooting, passing, and dribbling skills. He was said to be an offensive genius. According to Mike Flynn
former rival of Pistols who played for the University of Kentucky and the Indiana Pacers,
Pistol was one of the greatest offensive players I ve ever seen. I wouldn t say he was a
pure shooter, as much as I would say he was a great scorer. I loved playing against him
because he didn t like playing defense so I knew I was going to get my points, even
though he would always score more than me . Pistol was an individual player, he was
out there to put on a show and that s what he did.(Personal Interview)
I agree with Mike Flynn, because this quote comes from a player that has played against him, so he knows what type of player Pistol was. Pistol was a great player, even though he was an individual player, because no one could stop him.
Pistols first encounter with basketball was at the age of seven, where he practiced shooting with his father. As a kid, Maravich was known to hustle bets from his fellow classmates by challenging them to predict how long he could spin the basketball on his finger. Despite criticism that he was too greedy, Maravich shot fifty times and scored 48 points in his first varsity game, which led to a successful high school career. Maravich not only made his high school varsity team while in the eighth grade, but seemed to enjoy great success as a high school basketball player, even though he played for five different coaches in five years. At Needham-Broughton High School in North Carolina, he captured the single season scoring record with 735 points, the best per-game average with 32 points, and, as a senior, scored more points than any other player by scoring 47 in the North Carolina High School All-Star Game. (The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives) For Maravich, as a high school player, to play against all-stars and score 47 points, is amazing. High school is just the beginning of a great career for what this phenomenon will eventually accomplish.
In 1966 Maravich enrolled at LSU, where his father just accepted a job as head basketball coach. NCAA rules, at the time, prohibited first-year students from playing at the varsity level so Maravich played for LSU s freshman team during the 1966-67 and averaged a phenomenal 43.6 points per game (ppg). When Maravich moved up to varsity for his sophomore season, he began the greatest scoring rampage in NCAA history. Maravich seemed ready to get the job done stating, If I have a choice whether to do the show or throw the straight pass, and were going to get the basket either way, I m going to do the show. Indeed he did just that, during his next three seasons 1967-1970 averaging 43.8, 44.2, 44.5 ppg, and leading the nation in scoring each year. In addition, he set the following NCAA marks: most career points (3,667), averaging (44.2 ppg.)(World Almanac and Book of Facts 2000, p970) overall and a season (1,381); most field goals attempted in a career (3,166) and season (1,168); most field goals made in a career (1,387) and season (522); most free throws attempted in a three-year career (1,152) and game (31); most free throws made in a three-year career (893) and game (30); fifty or more points in a game within his career (28) and season (10); and best scoring average for a sophomore, junior and senior, a three-time All-American. He accomplished all this without the three-point basket.(www.nba.com)
Although he was perceived as an individual player, Maravich made LSU s win/loss record during his three years 49-35. Maravich graduated in 1970, and was awarded the Rupp Trophy and the Naismith Award that year as the NCAA s College Player of the Year. His father, Press Maravich, stated I get to the point where I don t coach him, Press once said of his phenomenon son, I just watch. (Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives)
Maravich was selected third overall in the 1970 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks. The veteran players were hesitant to accept Maravich as a new teammate because of his intimidating 1.9 million dollar contract an enormous amount at the time. Maravich made a great impact in his first season, when he averaged 23.2 ppg, ninth in the league, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team. Atlanta had finished 48-34 the previous season, winning the Western Division and advancing to the divisional finals. Being in the line-up for the 1970-71season, Maravichs Hawks finished 36-46 and in second place in the new Central Division. His following season in 1971-72 Maravich suffered from mononucleosis. He missed sixteen games and averaged a mere 19.3 ppg, a big decline from his standard. Although the team would replicate the previous season s 36-46 record and once again finish second in the Central Division.
As Maravich adjusted to the NBA his numbers improved with the Atlanta Hawks. During the 1972-73 season Maravich averaged 26.1 ppg with a season record of 46-36, the only winning season Maravich experienced in his NBA prime. The upcoming year finished second in the league with 27.7 ppg. After four impressive seasons with the Hawks, in 1974-75 Maravich was traded to the expansion New Orleans Jazz. His first year with the Jazz he only averaged 21.5 ppg and shot a career percentage worst .419. However, Maravich worked diligently on other aspects of his game and recorded career highs in rebounds (422) and steals (120) and averaging a mere 6.2 assists per game. In 1975-76 Maravich was occasionally sidelined with minor injuries, but he shot a career high .459 from the field and raised his average to 25.9 ppg, the third highest in the league at the time. The following season in 1976-77 was Maravich s finest as a professional. He led the NBA in scoring with an average of 31.1 ppg. He scored 40 or more points thirteen times, the most in the NBA. Maravich missed many games throughout his sixth and seventh seasons due to a combination of surgery in one knee, and a bacterial infection in addition to tendonitis in his other knee. His knee problems were proving to be too tough to overcome. He asked to be released from the Jazz in 1979 and played his last year as a Boston Celtic during the 1979-80 season. After failing to win a championship in Boston, Maravich faced the reality of his bad knees and retired from the NBA at the age of thirty-three. Earl Gutskey a writer for the Los Angeles Times quoted Jerry West the former NBA star as saying, Maravich was a really unique player who brought excitement and flair to the league at a time when the NBA really needed it.
During the years 1973, 1974 and 1977-79 (with a knee injury preventing him from playing in 1978) Maravich would be voted a starter on the NBA All-Star Game. In 1976 and 1977 Maravich would be First Team All-Pro, the same year he was the NBA scoring leader with 31.1 ppg. He was also named Second Team All-Pro in 1973 and 1978. Over the course of his ten-year professional career, he scored 15,948 points in 658 games, averaging 24.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. His uniform number from the Jazz was retired by the franchise in 1985. He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987, and was named to the NBA s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996.(Newsmakers)
Maravich s big numbers made little difference in the win column. Nobody ever suggested that he made less than a full effort, and he definitely made prime entertainment, but it seemed he was concerned with Pete first and the team second. Throughout all these years in the NBA, Maravich dealt with criticism. Many thought he was a loser and questioned why he could not win a championship and how he got named to the NBA s 50 Greatest Players List. Throughout time, coaching and coaching techniques have changed ” Years ago the coaching world was offensively oriented, said former Marquette coach Al McGuire, Teams played defense by holding the ball on offense because there was no shot clock. (Sports Illustrated p.78) Although Maravich was tormented, no matter how hard he played or what he did, people did not understand this offensive genius; however, those who really know basketball understood him. Easy Ed Macauley, also one of the greatest players to play the game stated Pete does things that make you say to yourself, Wait a minute, let me see you do that again I haven t seen a ball handler like him since Bob Cousy and Dick McGuire were in their prime, Pete can rip a team in shreds with his passes. (www.members.dencity.com) I agree with Al McGuire, because back then there was no shot clock so they could hold the ball as long as they wanted. It is not often that a player can shoot, play defense, get rebounds, and be a good assist man; however usually players are one or the other, very rarely they are an all around player. Today s coaches, in my opinion, stress playing defense. Many coaches have their best shooters coming off the bench as three-point specialists and having their defenders playing most of the minutes.
Peter Press Maravich was loved by many, yet understood by few. Maravich is a legend, one of the greatest basketball players who ever lived, and probably one of the most unique. He died on January 5, 1988 at the age of forty while playing in a three-on-three pick-up game in California. The news of his sudden death shocked everyone and brought back memories to his admirers. Few have inspired me as he did. Maravich had a commitment to excellence, even though he did not play much defense. Him being able to average, as many points as he did is unbelievable. Although the one thing that inspired me the most was that he was a born again Christian. Before his death, he told his former coach, Richie Guerin, that his desire was to be remembered as a good Christian, a good husband, and a good father. He spoke before 35,000 people at the Billy Graham Crusade in Columbia, South Carolina just a few months before his death. Maravich stated Next week I ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame . I wouldn t trade my position in Christ for a thousand NBA championships, for a thousand Hall of Fame rings, or for a hundred billion dollars. I really admired Peter Press Maravich, I feel his place in the history of the sport of basketball is secure. He will always be remembered as the greatest offensive scorer of all time.