Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Rocky Mount Telegram on "Maravich"

New book on Maravich really details his short life

By Matt LaWell
Rocky Mount Telegram

Thursday, February 08, 2007

There remains something inherently cool about Pete Maravich, even now, nearly 20 years after he collapsed and died on a basketball court.

Maybe it's something purely cosmetic – like the shaggy hair or those thick floppy socks – or maybe it's something more.

Maybe it's all those Homework Basketball drills that Maravich's father, Press, taught his son and that Maravich passed on to thousands of children across the country both in person and on videos that still fetch a fair price on eBay.

Maybe it's all those points Maravich scored during his three historic seasons down at Louisiana State, where he set a new NCAA single-season scoring record each year and, by the time he left town, the career scoring record, too.

Or maybe it's the fact that he rose to the peak of the collective American consciousness at 19, fell into a rut of alcohol and drugs during his 10-season professional career, then reinvented himself as a born-again Christian and preacher, spreading Christ's love as easily as he had the fundamentals of the game he loved.

But Maravich's legend spread well before he hit the court for the Tigers for the first time in 1967. While Press coached at Clemson and N.C. State, Maravich built a reputation throughout the Carolinas. Determined was one word used often to describe the teenage Maravich. Dedicated was another. Good – that was a third.

The complete saga returned late last year when Marshall Terrill and Wayne Federman published "Maravich" ($24.95, Sport Classic Books), which includes such tireless research that any reader will become an expert on the man who shot so often and scored so much he is still referred to as "Pistol."

"When I do a book about someone," Terrill wrote in an e-mail, "I have to know everything. ... I read all the books, dig up all the newspaper articles, buy everything, make contact with almost everyone and, over the years, you dig up a treasure trove of stuff."

The details, which, at points during the narrative become somewhat dense, begin nearly from the first page, where Terrill and Federman trace back to Maravich's grandparents' immigration to the steel-driven Pennsylvania, to the last, where Maravich's widow, Jackie, and his sons Joshua and Jaeson discuss the man who meant so much to them – so much to everybody.

Even now, so many years after he last played, Maravich still means so much to so many people.

Maybe it's the points, or maybe it's just his legend. Or maybe it's something more, the fact that Maravich's game and personality were so far ahead of his time.

On the back cover of their book, Terrill and Federman quote eight of the NBA's greatest players and coaches of the last quarter-century. Among that group is former Detroit guard Isiah Thomas, who won two championships with the Pistons.

"He did things with the basketball that players – still today – can't do," Thomas said. "If Maravich was playing today, he'd be a god."

Just maybe.

Matt LaWell can be reached at 407-9952 or

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