The bittersweet tale of Pistol Pete, one of basketball’s most talented and tragic legends.
Pete Maravich, born in 1947, was groomed from birth to be the best basketball player of all time. His father, Press, was his coach and taskmaster; the pair functioned as extensions of each other. Kriegel (Namath, 2004) begins by expounding at length on Press’s hardscrabble youth, when basketball became his salvation and his life. Press imbued his son with every ounce of his ambition. It didn’t take long for Pete, fanatical about perfecting every drill he was taught, to display an almost preternatural affinity for basketball. Pistol Pete integrated flawless fundamentals with showy moves. As his legend grew and he became the “great white hope” of the NBA, the weight of expectations crushed his free spirit, which was further battered by his mother’s 1974 suicide. His thin frame began to break down, and old-school coaches who didn’t appreciate Pete’s talent lessened his competitive fire. He sought comfort in everything from alcohol to belief in extraterrestrials. Despite spurts of brilliance and a reputation as one of the most talented players of all time, he walked away from the NBA in 1980, after ten seasons, with no championship ring. He would find happiness in Jesus and his family until a heart attack during a pickup match ended his life at the age of 40. Kriegel occasionally lingers too long on Press, but his son emerges in this compelling, nuanced account as a man both talented and complex.
Sure to send readers in search of the highlight reel.