Pete Maravich, better known as ‘The Pistol’, is one of the game’s most unsung and forgotten legends. A player ahead of his time who sadly saw his career and life cut short too soon at this day takes the place of one of the brightest players the league has ever seen. But who did Pete consider the best player in the game in the 1980s?
The ephemeral star duo
Pete Maravich is best known for his days with the Hawks and Jazz, with which he notched 5 All-Star appearances, 4x All-NBA selections and a scoring championship in 1977. That year, The Pistol averaged 31.1 ppg, 5.4 apg and 5.1 rpg, displaying a scoring ability ahead of its time. It’s unclear how much Maravich would have averaged in his prime had he had a three-point line back then.
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The three-point line was introduced in the last two seasons of Pete’s career, but it was Maravich outside of his prime, struggling with injuries and remaining on the pitch. We forget a little that Maravich played his last season in the league in 1980 with the Boston Celtics. Coincidentally, it was Larry Bird’s rookie season.
Maravich didn’t play much of a role, appearing in just 26 games and averaging 11.5 ppg. But that was already Bird’s team, as he took them to the ECF in his rookie season while proving he would be one of the best players in the NBA for the next decade.
It was enough to convince Pete Maravich that he was simply the best in the world, and he shared the best description of “Larry Legend” in an interview after his retirement:
“I think he’s the best, you know. Larry’s not really the best rebounder in the NBA; he’s not really the best passer, I don’t think, he’s not the best dribbler, he’s not the best shooter, he’s not the best scorer, he’s just the best.”
Pete Maravich, NBA Galaxy Universe
Bird was never considered the best in any specific area, but his all-around game and skill made him impossible to contain. The mix of shooting, size, basketball IQ, rebounding ability and confidence made Larry a legend and one of the best players in NBA history, even in the eyes of Pistol Pete Maravich .