Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pistol Pete Maravich in Charlotte

I wrote an offbeat column in today's newspaper that you can find here -- a story about a game Pete Maravich played in Charlotte 40 years ago.

Maravich torched Clemson for 49 points on 22-of-30 shooting on Dec.20, 1969. By percentage, it was easily the best shooting night of his career, and that's saying something since Maravich remains the No.1 scorer in college basketball history.

The story came about as one of those fortuitous coincidences. Reporters here can access The Observer's archives by computer from the mid-1980s onward. So it's easy to look up something that happened only 25 years ago or less.

But the other stuff is tougher. You have to go to a microfilm machine and look through it, one page at a time. It's fascinating, though, because it shows you just the way the newspaper looked back then -- ads, headlines, pictures, everything.

About a year ago, I was looking for something else that happened in 1969, and now I can't even remember what it was. But I came upon the evidence of Maravich's game here -- something I had no idea about, and I've lived here 15 years myself.

Hmm, I thought. That might be a good story when we get to the 40th anniversary of that game.

Nearly 7,300 people went to the old Charlotte Coliseum to watch Maravich's LSU team play Clemson that night. Maravich beat the old Coliseum scoring record -- held at the time by Princeton's Bill Bradley -- by four points. And the tickets? How about this for a bargain -- $5 for adults, $2 for students.


Anonymous said...

Pistol Pete still holds the highest scoring average for 3 years in college. No Freshmen could play then and ALSO, there was NO 3-point arch used.
This makes it even more impressive.

Anonymous said...

I was there! Incredible show Pete put on!

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered what Pete's career would have been like if he had been able to meet the ACC's SAT requirement. His dad was coach at NCSU at the time, but left because Pete couldn't get into State but could get into LSU.

Nevertheless, he was amazing with a basketball in his hands.

Anonymous said...

Not many people are aware that Maravich is a NC product coming out of Broughton HS in Raleigh, NC.
The Pisto Pete story reads like a greek tragedy.
No ONE will ever top his scoring avg. or ball handling skills ,, EVER!

Anonymous said...

Back when basketball was worth watching.

Anonymous said...

Pete played two high school games at the East Meck gym back in the sixties. I remember Broughton and maybe a team from Fayetteville and two teams from Charlotte, East Meck being one. I think the teams changed opponents the next night. He was truly a phenom, passing, shooting, dribbling, all arms and legs. Needless to say, they (he)waxed both teams. That old coot, Baker Hood, would remember if he is not senile by now.

Anonymous said...

Truly the stuff legends are made of and his legacy is impeccable. The NBA had honor and integrity then.

A leg injury during the 1977-78 NBA season started a downward spiral that prompted the decline of his career. After the injury forced him to leave basketball in the fall of 1980.

A few years before his death, Maravich said: "I want to be remembered as a Christian, a person that serves Him to the utmost. Not as a basketball player."

Pete Maravich was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in May 1987. At age 39, he was one of the youngest players ever to be inducted.

On January 5, 1988, Pete Maravich collapsed and died, at age 40, of a heart attack while playing in a pickup basketball game in the gym at the First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena with a group that included Focus on the Family head James Dobson. (Maravich had flown out from his home in Louisiana to tape a segment for Dobson's radio show that aired later that day.) Dobson has said that his last words, less than a minute before he died, were "I feel great." An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be a rare congenital defect; he had been born with a missing left coronary artery, a vessel which supplies blood to the muscle fibers of the heart. His right coronary artery was grossly enlarged and had been compensating for the defect.

"He'll be remembered always", former LSU head basketball coach Dale Brown said on hearing the news of Maravich's death.

At the age of 25 and years before his death, Maravich had told Pennsylvania reporter, Andy Nuzzo, "I don't want to play 10 years in the NBA and then die of a heart attack at 40."

Maravich is buried at Resthaven Gardens of Memory and Mausoleum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.