Pistol Pete's Shot Still Rings Out

"There was such a mystique" about Pete Maravich, NBA great Willis Reed said. Maravich scored 44.2 points a game at LSU. (1969 Associated Press Photo)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Mike Wise
Sunday, February 17, 2008


A couple of years ago, a New Orleans Hornets executive heard about two young men who wanted to see an NBA game. So Willis Reed, who knew the family a bit, did the proper thing: He left tickets for Josh and Jaeson Maravich.

Pistol Pete's boys, taking in a game with the Captain. That's about as historical as hoop gets down here, where the game teaches everyone an instant altruism: In Louisiana, black or white -- old or young -- once you have the bayou and basketball in common, few barriers remain.

"There was such a mystique around their father," Reed said yesterday of Maravich. "I so loved to watch him play. Wouldn't it be great to have a Maravich in our sport now? Those saggy socks. That hair. The showmanship."

The memory of Maravich is to be feted this All-Star Weekend on Sunday morning at the ninth annual NBA Legends brunch, where Julius Erving, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Reed and others will put their hands together for Jackie Maravich, her sons and the creative basketball genius who died suddenly of a heart defect more than two decades ago.

"I remember Pete tellin' me, 'When you die, people forget you,' " said Jackie Maravich, whom Pete widowed in 1988. "I mean, he's more alive today than ever. He kind of reminds me of Elvis Presley, the way people see him now. He had such an impact on and off the court."

Maravich now has been honored posthumously almost more than he was in his 40 years. If he had a supernova's burst of brilliance, his life story has an infinite quality to it. Mark Kriegel's rich 2007 biography, "Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich," now is out in paperback.

Josh, now 25, helps his mother run the company that still markets Pete's instructional videos to catalog companies and has operated a basketball camp for the past 24 years. Jaeson, 29, works as a personal trainer, of course specializing in basketball, at a high-end health club here.

Jackie still lives in the same 2 1/2 -story Victorian home she and her husband raised their two boys in 20-odd years ago in Covington, La., about 45 miles north of New Orleans.

The boys' last stint in the public eye came more than 11 years ago, when their father was named as one of the NBA's top 50 players of all time. In 1996, Pistol Pete was the only player on the team not alive. The boys were just 5 and 8 years old when Maravich passed away.

"To see and hear my kids talk about their dad, hear so many things from so many different people, it makes you proud," Jackie said. "You always think what could have been but that's not what God had planned."

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company