Before Showtime, there was Pete Maravich … an NBA pioneer | India

“That’s where I saw it all, from Pistol Pete. That’s where I got it.”

Magic Johnson, the lead actor in perhaps the most entertaining basketball brand, the Showtime Lakers of the ’80s brought their own style to the game, but as is the case with all generational stars, they are an advance of the era before them.

What we see in today’s game, between Kyrie Irving’s flashy dribbling moves, Steph Curry’s long-range 3-point bombs to Ja Morant’s fake balls, can all be traced back to Pistol Pete.

Many others before him brought a sense of flash to the game, but Maravich’s constant daring to ooze style on the pitch was out of place back in the 1970s.

The Internet frequently debates players from different eras who might have excelled in different eras. Could LeBron thrive in the ’90s physique, would Michael Jordan still dominate today as he did back then? While the debate often goes back in time, quickly advance Maravich to today’s game and you would have had an absolute monster.

Maravich was ahead of his time in every sense of the word, with his flamboyant playing style and dedication to putting on a show like no other.

The 6-foot-5 goaltender has played 10 seasons in the NBA and has been named a five-time All-Star and although he has not won an NBA championship, his imprint on the game goes far beyond any accolades. .

After averaging 43.8, 44.2 and 44.5 points per game in three seasons at LSU, he was selected with the third overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft, signing a contract of 1 , $ 9 million with the Atlanta Hawks, the biggest contract in professional basketball at the time. .

He lit up the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks for four seasons, establishing himself as one of the league’s top goaltenders, winning two All-Star caps, a spot on the All-NBA Second Team in 1973 and finishing second in 1974 with 27.7 points per game.

Following a trade with the New Orleans Jazz, he took his game to another level and in his third season in NOLA, he averaged 31.1 points per game, scoring 40 points or more 13 times. That season he netted his career-high 68 points against the New York Knicks, the most points a goalie has ever scored and at the time only Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor had scored more points. in one match.

His 68 points came on 26 of 43 from the field and 16 of 19 from the free throw line so far are tied for the 13th highest point total in a game. Keep in mind that this was before the introduction of the 3-point line, although Maravich still has a knack for letting it fly at long distances.

Knee injuries slowed down his final seasons, before he retired at the end of the 1979-80 season – the first year the NBA brought the 3-point line and he went from 10 to 15 in depth.

You can only imagine what he would do in today’s game.

“I might be a little bonkers, but I’ll always be there to entertain,” Maravich said. “There’s nothing that says you can’t win and be entertained.”

One man who has personified this more than most over the past few seasons is Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry. Maravich was the Curry of his time, doing the unthinkable with the ball, pulling beyond the realms of the imagination and getting plenty of buckets in the process.

“I think he was one of the first to get creative in handling the ball and being able to balance that part of the game with just a score,” Curry said in 2018 of comparisons with Pistol Pete.

“The game has obviously changed dramatically, and a lot of people have adopted Pistol Pete’s flair for the game, but being an innovator, that’s what I call him, an innovator because he pushed the boundaries. “

Last season, Curry became the first player since Maravich in 1976-77 to be an MVP finalist and not make the playoffs. Maravich, as Curry did, led the NBA in scoring that year with 31.1 points per game.

Maravich, who was named one of the 50 best NBA players of all time as part of the league’s 50th anniversary in 1996 and inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987, is just one of the 13 players in NBA history to have their shirts withdrawn by several franchises,

He and Wilt Chamberlain are the only ones to have their numbers in the rafters of three different teams (Pelicans, Jazz, Hawks).

While the legend of “Pistol Pete” is set in stone as one of the greatest in the game, perhaps its greatest legacy is what you see on the pitch today and the impact it has. had about the game as we know it.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the NBA or its clubs.