Before Their Time Vol. 1

In the NBA’s history, there have been players that simply paved the way for the things we see on the regular today. Back then, those players weren’t as appreciated.

Mars Robinson
SportsRaid

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Created by Mars Robinson

For the first installment of this series, I wanted to shed light on Hall of Famer PG, “Pistol” Pete Maravich. Pete played his college ball at Lousiana State University (LSU) and was lucky enough to be coached by his father where he scored 3,667 points — 1,138 of those in 1967–68, 1,148 in 1968–69, and 1,381 in 1969–70 — while averaging 43.8, 44.2, and 44.5 PPG in three seasons on varsity.

These numbers are true and absolutely insane. What makes it even crazier is that for the first quarter of his freshman season, Pete could not play on the varsity team due to NCAA rules. Pete also played before the three-point shot and shot clock was introduced, which to this day fans still debate how ridiculous his stats would look if those regulations existed then. Pete regularly shot long two’s from the same range that players like Steph, Dame, and Trae currently take their threes.

Pete unfortunately never played in the NCAA tournament, but he is recognized in NCAA history for his records that still stand today, and for turning around LSU’s basketball team. Drafted third overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 1970, Pete played four seasons with the Hawks and averaged a combined 24.3 PPG on 44% shooting from the field. Pete’s playstyle took a while for his teammates to respect, his flashiness with his dribbles and no-look passes often rubbed players the wrong way, but it never deterred Pete from playing his brand of basketball.

With an All-Rookie selection and two All-Star selections, Pete would be traded to a then-new expansion team looking for an exciting player to steer their franchise. That expansion team would be the New Orleans Jazz. Already a legend in Louisiana, it made perfect sense for Pete to bring that same flash to a city new to having its own NBA team. In the six seasons he played in Utah, Pete averaged a combined 25.2 PPG on 43% shooting from the field.

Bringing in three more All-Star selections and two first-team All-NBA selections, Pete would be a product of front office failure as the Jazz could not provide him with the talent he needed to see the playoffs. In Atlanta, Pete saw the playoffs three out of the four seasons he played there. Each time, however, the Hawks lost in the first round. Pete would also deal with knee injuries that unfortunately, would follow him for the rest of his career.

With his play dropping, the Jazz would struggle on both the court and in the front office financially. By 1979, the Jazz would move to Salt Lake City, becoming the Utah Jazz. The Jazz released Pete shortly before the 1979-80 season and he would then sign with the Boston Celtics making him a “hired gun” for Boston off the bench. Knee injuries continued to plague Pete and he would retire following his one season in Boston after they were eliminated in the playoffs by the Sixers.

Pete retired one year before the NBA introduced the three-point shot, but according to the stats from his one season in Boston, he shot 10–15 from “three” leaving him with a career 66% from distance. Pete was only 40 years young when he passed in 1988, leaving behind a legacy that opened the doors for players with a similar playstyle, like Magic, who came into the league the same year Pete retired (1980). Today, players who can dribble the air out of the basketball and make insane passes draw the “oohs” and “ahhs” from the fans time and time again. “Pistol” made those kinds of plays worth watching in the NBA, and he should be celebrated for it.

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Mars Robinson
SportsRaid

Freelance NBA writer and host of “The No Bias Podcast” Twitter: @marsjoint @nobiaspod