“The Pistol”, it is a name that most basketball fans recognize. Pistol Pete was a shooter, and he made a lot of his shots.
He was also one of the best at dribbling the basketball and passed the ball for a lot of assists too.
Maravich was famous before he got to the NBA, due to his record-setting collegiate career at LSU. His lowest scoring average for Louisiana State University was 43.8 points per game, that sort of says he could score. He followed that with consistent scoring, 44.2 and 44.5.
At 6-5 and 200 pounds, Maravich also distributed the ball for LSU and rebounded the ball too. His college career averages were 5.1 assists and 6.4 rebounds. Maravich won the Naismith Award in 1970.
Some of the records that Maravich set during his college years include most points and highest points average, most field goals made and attempted and most free throws made and attempted. Maravich shot 77.5% from the free throw line for LSU, and 43.8% from the field.
Other interesting college numbers include hitting 30 of 31 free throws in a single game and having the most games scoring 50 or more points.
Maravich joined the NBA when Atlanta picked him at number 3 in the 1970 NBA draft. He made the All-Rookie Team, with 23 points and around 4 assists and 4 rebounds per game. Maravich would spend four seasons with Atlanta, going to the playoffs three times and the All-Star game twice.
The next stop was the New Orleans Jazz, who wanted Maravich to be the face of their new franchise and to get fans to the games. Players Dean Meminger and Bob Kauffman, 1974 and 1975 first round picks and a couple of second rounders were sent to Atlanta to complete the trade.
Maravich would lift his game playing for the Jazz and in he led the league in scoring in 1977. While scoring 31.1 points per game, Maravich was also able to hand out 5.4 assists and collect 5.1 rebounds as well.
He had five big seasons with the New Orleans Jazz and also played several games with the Utah Jazz. He finished his career with the Boston Celtics, providing a spark off the bench in the tradition of other Celtics’ 6th men.
During his final season with Utah and Boston in 1979-80, Maravich played on a court with the three-point line, something he had not done before.
He went 10 for 15 from long range in the regular season, and 2 from 6 in the playoffs. If the three-point line was there when he played college basketball his points average would have been even higher as would his NBA numbers.
In 1987 Maravich was inducted into the Basketball Hall Of Fame. In 1976 and 1977 he was named to the All-NBA First Team, and was on the All-NBA Second Team in 1973 and 1978.
Today there are players who can make exciting passes, dribble the ball around their back and through their legs and hit off-balance and long-range shots. A lot of those players would have learned these skills by watching highlights of the career of Pistol Pete.