Monday, April 19, 2010

Pistol Pete

I just knocked out a Pete Maravich biography.

Pete was perhaps the greatest college basketball player of all time and by far, it's greatest scorer. He had a nice but shortened and injury-plagued NBA career. Most important, he was an innovator in the game.

Personally, he was not particularly content, until becoming a Christian relatively late in his life. Then he died at age 40 of a heart attack-- oddly enough, in the arms of James Dobson, after a few pick-up games (prior to an interview Dobson was going to conduct with him).

A few tidbits from the book: Bob Pettit played at LSU and led it to the Final Four in 1953. After he graduated, LSU basketball fell on hard times-- despite the efforts of a few coaches, including Jay McCreary of "Hoosiers" fame. (His Muncie Central team lost to Milan in the 1954 title game.)

Although the term "showtime" became even more famous under Magic Johnson and the LA Lakers, the term originated with Maravich, his style of play, and his crowd-pleasing antics before games.

Finally, there was an amazing story about Harry Edwards-- the famous, African-American sports sociologist. Edwards tried to set up a boycott of the 1968 Summer Olympics-- and eventually settled for influencing two athletes to do the "black power salute" from the winners' podium.

Two quotes from Edwards were stunning:

In trying to set up the boycott, he said: "For years we have participated in the Olympic Games, carrying the U.S. on our backs...It's time for the Black people to stand up as men and women and refuse to be utilized as performing animals for a little extra dog food..."

And then this: "I don't think any black athletes will go to the Olympics. If they do, I don't think they'll come back. Some of them are going to have accidents. The black athlete who goes will be a traitor to his race and will be treated as such." Wow!


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