Childhood & Early Life
Pete Maravich was born to Petar "Press" Maravich in Aliquippa, in Beaver County in western Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. He acquired his basketball skills from his father who was a former professional player-turned coach.
From a very early age, he surprized his family with his detailed understanding of the game and sporting skills. A fanatic, he spent hours perfecting head fakes, long range shots, passes and learning ball control tricks.
It was due to his excellence at the game that even before reaching the required age for enrolling at Daniel High School, he started playing for their varsity ball. He gained admission in 1961 and for two years henceforth, played every game.
Due to his father’s transfer to North Carolina State University, the family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. Therein, he gained admission at Needham B. Broughton High School.
It was while at Broughton that his unique habit of shooting the ball from his side, that gave an impression of him holding a revolver became famous. Soon, due to the same, he earned the nickname, ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich.
Completing his high school graduation, he enrolled at Louisiana State University wherein his father served as the varsity coach. In his freshman year, he played for LSU freshman team. He gave a resounding performance with 50 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
Moving up to his sophomore year, he began what came to be the biggest and the greatest scoring riot with him scoring 3,667 points in just three years. In his collegiate career, he averaged an incredible 44.2 points per game in 83 contests leading NCAA in each of the three seasons.
Interestingly, till date, after about more than three decades, most of his NCAA records and those at LSU stand unbeaten. While he was at the LSU, he became a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
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His professional stint at basketball began in 1970 when he was selected to play for Atlanta Hawks in the first round of NBA draft. What was interesting to note is that the team already boasted of having top-notch scorers in Lou Hudson and Walt Bellamy! However, while Hudson was a conservative player, Maravich was radical in his game plan.
His association with Atlanta Hawks turned profitable both for him and the team. In his 81 outings, he averaged 23.2 points which was great, considering his first professional experience. What’s more, he changed his playing style to match with those of star players of his team
Despite good personal record, the team performance dabbled as it merely qualified for the playoffs losing in the first round. The performance of the team in the second season was a mirror effect of the first one, excepting that his personal average dipped to 19.3.
The match against Boston Celtics was the turning point in his career as he rambled to put up an average of 27.7. Also, the match was a precursor of what to expect in the upcoming season.
The third season was a terrific one for the team and players in general as the team secured 46-36 record, but losing yet again in the first round of the playoffs. As for him, his personal bests stood at an average of 26.1 points with 6.9 assists per game. He and Hudson became the only second set of teammates in league history to score over 2,000 points in a single season
The 1973-74 season was memorable in terms personal records but the team performance dwindled to all time low with a record of 35-47. However, he averaged 27.7 points, second in the league after Bob McAdoo
In the 1974 season, the New Orleans Jazz made its entry into the NBA and was looking for dynamic players who would provide the real boost to the team. The requisites of the team were fulfilled by him as he was drafted into the team.
His inclusion did not do much good for the team and for him in general, as New Orleans Jazz posted a record 23-59, which was the worst in NBA. Furthermore, his personal record came slashing down to 21.5 points per game.
With a better supporting team, the next season proved worthwhile for the team as it went on to score 38-44 record. He was down with injuries which caused him to play just 62 games overall. His average stood at 25.9 points. However, his inherent skills were much appreciated by the crowd.
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Season 1976-77 was iconic in his professional career as he led the league with an average of 31.1 points per game. While he scored 40 points or more in 13 different games, his masterstroke of 68 points against the Knicks was the highest ever by any player.
Sadly, he could not long hold being at the zenith of the game and his career was down with injuries. Knee problems forced him to miss 32 games at a stretch. Despite this, he made a flashing comeback scoring 27.0 points per game, and 6.7 assists. The figures though respectable helped New Orleans post 39-43 record.
He continued to battle with his injuries which limited his appearance to 49 games. He nevertheless managed to score 22.6 points per game. However, the dismissal financial condition of the team led it to be moved to Salt Lake City, Utah.
His contribution towards Utah Jazz was a menial one, as his injuries took the better of him. In 1980, he was put on waivers and became a part-time contributor to the team. He helped the team pose 61-21 record in the regular season, which was the best in the league.
He retired from the game after the 1979-80 season, realizing that the knee injury had worsened over the course of the year.
Awards & Achievements
He made several NBA records in his lifetime, including scoring a career-high 68 points against New York Knick in 1977 and posing career best average of 31.1.
Along with Hudson, he became the second pair of teammates in NBA history to score 2,000 or more points in a season. With Denver Nuggest, he became the third pair of teammates in NBA history to score 40 or more points in the same game.
NBA career apart, his collegiate career also holds some magnificent record as he scored highest scoring average of 44.5, and total points of 3667.
In his lifetime, he received numerous NBA Awards including, NBA All-Rookie Team, All-NBA First Team (twice), All-NBA Second Team (twice) and Five-time NBA All-Star.
In 1987, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
In 1996, he was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.
In 2005, he was named the greatest college basketball player of all time by ESPNU.
Personal Life & Legacy
He tied the knot with Jackie, and the couple was blessed with two children, Jaeson and Josh.
He breathed his last on January 5, 1988 due to heart failure, while playing in a pickup basketball game in the gym. He was buried at Resthaven Gardens of Memory and Mausoleum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.