One of my hero's in life is "Pistol" Pete Maravich. The Pistol was a phenomal basketball player, and his ability to manipulate a basketball is legendary. He was way ahead of his time, and many of the highlight reels we see today have trickled down from Pete Maravich's creativity and style. In many ways, Pete brought the one-on-one style of play that became prominent in the Michael Jordan years to basketball.
Pete is college basketball's all time leading scorer, averaging a staggering 44.2 pts per game, without the 3-point line (He played for LSU, of course!). He was a five-time All Star in the NBA, and averaged 24.2 pts per game in his 10 year career (15th all time). Most of his career was spent with the New Orleans Jazz, who later became the Utah Jazz (Jazz makes a lot more sense in New Orleans, doesn't it?).
On January 5, 1988, while playing a pickup basketball game at the Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena, California, with a group that included Focus on the Family head James Dobson (Maravich was scheduled to appear on Dobson's radio show later that day), he collapsed and died of a heart attack at the age of only 40. An autopsy revealed that his death was due to a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect; he had been born with only one coronary artery instead of the normal two (he had no left coronary artery, a very rare condition).
"He'll be remembered always", former LSU head basketball coach Dale Brown said on hearing the news of Maravich's death. "When we see some tousled-haired kid with drooping socks standing on some semi-darkened court or in a yard after everyone else has gone home, he will be shooting a basketball, and we will remember Pete."
Years before his death Maravich told a Pennsylvania reporter, "I don't want to play 10 years [in the NBA] and then die of a heart attack when I'm 40."
Here's the ultimate Pistol Pete highlight. Enjoy one of the greatest of all time!!