Part 5 of 5 in the Pete Maravich Series
January 5, 1988
Pete Maravich was born without a left main coronary artery, which carries life-sustaining oxygen and blood to the left side of the heart. Instead, a branch from the right coronary artery wound around to the left side of his heart, ensuring enough blood to sustain it.
Over time, the slower-than-normal flow of blood and oxygen scarred muscle on the left side of Maravich's heart -- leaving him vulnerable to the type of heart failure he suffered today playing a game of pick-up basketball.
Mr. Maravich, who was known as Pistol Pete because of his shooting prowess, averaged 44.2 points per game and amassed an NCAA record of 3,667 points in three years while playing for his father, Pete (Press) Maravich, at Louisiana State in the late 1960s.
Drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the third selection in the first round of the 1970 NBA draft, Maravich averaged 23 points per game on his way to All-Rookie honors. After spending four seasons in Atlanta, Maravich was traded to the New Orleans Jazz for 8 players.
He made the All-NBA First Team in 1976 and 1977 and the All-NBA Second Team in 1973 and 1978. He led the NBA in scoring in the 1976-77 with 31.1 points per game. His NBA single game high, a 68-point explosion before fouling out, came against the New York Knicks on February 25, 1977.
The following year, he injured a knee while making one of his sensational behind-the-back passes. In January 1980, he was waived by the Jazz, who had moved to Utah, and the Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were matching offers trying to sign him.
"I actually weighed a lot of factors between both clubs," Mr. Maravich told Globe basketball writer Bob Ryan, "and it came down to one very simple end result: I've been trying to get here for 10 years. I've always wanted to be a Celtic."
Maravich averaged 11.5 points in 26 regular-season contests for the Celtics, then hit for 6 per game in the 1980 playoffs. He retired during preseason camp the following year.
In 1996 Maravich was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.