Time Travel to Watch Pete Maravich Play in New Orleans Again

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Time Travel to Watch Pete Maravich Play in New Orleans Again

Disclaimer: A loophole is being used here, since: 1) The current incarnation of New Orleans basketball (between the Hornets and Pelicans) began in 2002, which severely limits the amount of retired players worthy of time travel; 2) The Jazz played in New Orleans from 1974-1979; 3) Pete Maravich played in for the Jazz while they were in New Orleans; 3) Maravich was not the player nominated in the Jazz edition of this series, nor the Hawks edition (the only other team he spent multiple seasons with); 4) Maravich’s number is retired by the New Orleans Pelicans, thus making him a part of the franchsie; and 4) Any series of NBA columns that make it possible to watch any player again MUST include Pete Maravich.

There’s probably a whole generation of NBA fans that don’t know the Jazz started in New Orleans. The “Jazz” name was meant to be a direct link between the culture of New Orleans entertainment and its basketball team (a link between team name and city that didn’t exactly carry over all that well when the team moved to Utah in 1980). However, simply put: Pete Maravich was New Orleans (and Jazz) basketball. His aesthetically pleasing, in-your-face style of play was a perfect match for a bright, in-your-face city, which New Orleans was, and is.

This series is meant to profile a great player for each NBA team, but it should be noted that Pete Maravich’s basketball bond to NOLA go back to college. He attended Louisiana State University (his dad was his coach there), and to this day holds the record for most points scored during a collegiate career with 3,667 points. (Keep in mind, he didn’t play his freshman season because NCAA rules dictated that first-year players weren’t eligible to play varsity, so that’s his three-year total, and perhaps even more impressively, he put up those numbers before there was a shot clock or a three-point line.)

By the numbers, Pete Maravich’s career is simply staggering. For his career in college, he averaged 44.2 points. During his eleven-year NBA career, there were six games in which Maravich’s point total was in the fifties, and an additional thirty-five games he scored in the forties. He is widely considered to be one of the best ball-handlers to ever live. One could spend days on YouTube watching “Pistol Pete” videos. He was basically a taller and bigger Steve Nash that played while Nash was still in diapers. And he scored more than Nash … way more.

During his peak in the NBA, Maravich had several seasons where he put up point averages in the mid-to-high-twenties (with a high of 31.1 in 1976-77), averaged around five rebounds per game, between five and six assists, and added a steal or two for good measure. A combination of injuries limited him in his final seasons, ultimately forcing his retirement in 1980.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987; when the NBA selected its 50 Greatest Players in 1996 to honor the 50th anniversary of the league, Maravich was named one of them.

Tragically, while playing pickup basketball in Pasadena, California, on January 5, 1988, Pete Maravich collapsed and died of heart failure at the age of 40. Pete Maravich will forever loom as a legend of basketball lore. He was a virtuoso with a basketball in his hand. During a time when the ABA competed against the NBA, Maravich brought the freestyling nature associated with the ABA to the more rigid NBA game (along with a mop-top hair do and floppy socks!). His game was fun, his game was music … New Orleans Jazz music. As long as there is basketball, Pete Maravich’s game must not be forgotten. It would be a pleasure and an honor to time travel to watch Pete Maravich play in New Orleans again.

Main photo credit:

“Tom Van Arsdale and Pete Maravich” di Frank Bryan