Peter Press Maravich was born June 22, 1947, in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. As a child, he learned to play basketball from his father, Press Maravich, a former professional player with the Basketball Association of America. Press became the head coach at LSU in 1966, the same year his son Pete entered the school as a freshman. Maravich dazzled crowds with his performance on the freshman team (at the time, NCAA rules prevented first-year students from competing at the varsity level), scoring 43.6 points per game. During his three years as a member of LSU’s varsity squad, Maravich continued to impress and set a number of NCAA records, some of which still stand today, including most career points (3,667) and highest career scoring average (44.2 points per game). Nicknamed “Pistol Pete,” he was known for his big numbers and his incredible ball-handling skills and showmanship, as well as his droopy socks. Maravich was named College Player of the Year in his senior season.
In 1970, Maravich was the third overall pick in the NBA draft and signed with the Atlanta Hawks for the then-astronomical sum of $1.9 million. He played for the Hawks from 1970 to 1974, the New Orleans/Utah Jazz from 1974 to 1980 and spent the final season of his career, 1980, with the Boston Celtics. During his 10 years in the NBA, Maravich was a five-time NBA All-Star and averaged 24.2 points per game. In 1977, he led the league in scoring, with an average of 31.1 points per game. In February 1977, Maravich scored 68 points in a single game against the New York Knicks, led by superstar Walt Frazier.
Despite the impressive numbers he racked up throughout his career, Maravich never played on a championship team during college or the NBA and critics claimed he put himself above his team. He retired from the NBA in 1980 and was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987. Maravich died of a heart attack at age 40 on January 5, 1988, during a pickup game of basketball in California.