September 21, 1980
Pete Maravich quit the Celtics yesterday, apparently fed up with basketball after 10 pro seasons.
"I think I've shot one basket too many," Maravich told coach Bill Fitch by telephone before catching a noon flight to his home in New Orleans.
The sudden departure of the onetime superstar - who joined the Celtics last January as a free agent - comes just 10 days after he signed a new contract and said, "My big goal is to earn a championship ring and this could be just the year to do it."
"Pete told me he'd had it," Fitch said. "It was completely amicable. He just didn't feel he could get himself up for another season.
"At age 32 and after 10 seasons, he felt he simply didn't have the desire it takes to get over the hump and face another season of traveling, another season of not seeing his child growing up. I've never seen anybody more wrapped up with a youngster than Pete is with (one-year-old) Jason.
"I think Pete also felt that he wasn't getting any younger, and that if he couldn't regain what he once had, it was time to retire, that he'd had it.
"I think the problems he had the last two seasons before joining us also dulled his appetite for basketball.
"The fact that he's financially secure was probably part of his decision, too.
"I certainly can understand how he felt at this point in his career. I respect his honesty to himself and to the team in something that could have affected the team."
Fitch said Maravich didn't figure any more prominently in Celtic plans this season than he did a year ago, even if free-agent Nate (Tiny) Archibald doesn't return - even though both are backcourtmen.
" I wasn't counting on Pete any more than last season even in Tiny's absence," Fitch said. "Chris (Ford) and Gerry (Henderson) were playing ahead of him. So, no, it wasn't a situation in which Pete was letting us down.
"Sure Pete would be welcome back if he changed his mind in the near future. But I doubt that'll happen. He probably has retired for good. I think his decision is irrevocable."
Maravich joined the team last midseason after being cut by the Utah Jazz, who bought out the remainder of his contract - a reported 2 1/2 years at $1.8 million. In 26 games for the Celtics the onetime LSU all-everything averaged 17 minutes a game and scored 299 points, an 11.5 average. He added 29 assists.
"I've been trying to get here for 10 years," Maravich told a Garden press conference after signing last Jan. 22. "I've always wanted to be a Celtic."