He was the boy with the sad eyes…
Maravich is still the all-time leading collegiate scorer, averaging a staggering 44.2 points per game, without the benefit of a 3-point line – he also holds numerous professional records as well, and remains the youngest player ever to be inducted into the professional basketball Hall of Fame.
It is difficult to explain, especially to a modern audience, the impact that Pete Maravich had upon the sport of basketball. Suffice to say, he has a place alongside such luminaries as George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Michael Jordan – whose style of play represented an evolutionary step in the development of the sport.
As one sportswriter opined: “Maravich demonstrated an approach to the game which had as yet only been imagined and has still not been fully realized.”
However, the difference between Maravich and those which have come after him is comparable to that of an innovator and imitators. While Maravich reached the level of skill in ball-handling, passing, and shooting from long hours of practice upon the fundamental aspects of the game – it is not so much his work-ethic that has been imitated, but the artistic fruition which came as a result. Like someone who aspires to be a great composer by only rewriting the works of former masters in their own clumsy hand.
All the same, Maravich`s primary flaw was his inability to assimilate his particular genius into harmony with players of far lesser capabilities.
Basketball is nothing if it is not a team sport and, while one dominant player can lead a team to fantastic success, it will only be so if that one dominant player is fully integrated into the larger team effort – and without peer nor correspondent, Maravich could only languish alone.
Though he often led the league statistically, his teams never achieved much overall success.
Following a series of injuries, Maravich retired in 1980.
Throughout his early adulthood and professional career, Pete Maravich never demonstrated the same ease off the court that he showed with the ball in his hand. He struggled with substance abuse and wandered through an erratic series of lifestyle choices, embracing a bevy of divergent worldviews in his search for some sort of answer to the emptiness that haunted his quiet hours.
After experimenting with almost every path he could find, Pete Maravich was called out of his darkness by Jesus Christ:
“That fateful night in November started just like any other. I watched TV, grumbled in my $300,000 house, and went to bed about midnight. But I could not sleep.
All the sins of my youth kept parading through my mind. This had never happened to me before. I was up all night. I cried out to GOD… and I asked Jesus to come into my life.
Nothing gave me the peace that Jesus gave me that night.”
For all of Pete Maravich`s mastery within the sport of basketball, for all of his fame and glory as a gifted athlete – it was only the Peace and Hope in Jesus Christ that satisfied the unquenchable longing which is in us all.
Though he only lived for a few short years after his conversion into the Christian faith, it was sufficient enough time to serve the LORD with the same discipline and single-minded focus which propelled him into the highest echelon of athletic ability.
Later, in leading his own father to Christ, Maravich returned the favors of his father`s early tutelage and instruction, by sharing with him the Power of the Gospel.
Dying suddenly in January of 1988 from heart failure (stemming from a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect), Peter Press Maravich left a legacy which far surpasses that of legend and the transient glory of worldly acclaim.
Today, had he lived, he would have been sixty years of age – yet today he does live. Today and every tomorrow of Eternity.