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Pete Maravich When He Was 26: "I Don't Want To Play 10 Years In The NBA And Die Of A Heart Attack At Age 40"

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Pete Maravich

Pete Maravich is one of the great shooting guards in NBA history. Maravich has had an illustrious career spent mostly with the Atlanta Hawks and the New Orleans/Utah Jazz. Maravich was an electric scorer who was known for his flash and creativity on the court and was an absolute offensive monster. During his career, he made 5 All-Star teams and led the league in scoring once, and before that, he dominated the college game with his wizardry on the ball at LSU.

During his time at LSU, Maravich broke many records, including the all-time NCAA scoring record which he still holds today, with 3,667 points. He got those points on an astounding 44.2 PPG. What is insane, is that Pete Maravich broke this record without the 3PT line. Many scorers today rely on the 3PT line to put up massive numbers, and it is absolutely mind-boggling that Maravich set that record without it. He also didn't play varsity as a freshman, which further adds to how impressive it is that he still holds this record in the modern era. Maravich was an absolute college legend, which on some level, foreshadowed his success in the NBA.

Pete Maravich played 10 years in the NBA and was clearly a player who was meant more for the modern era. Maravich was known for his long-range shooting and his showboating style of play. He would have fit perfectly into the 3PT dominant era of today, where guards often do amazing things with their handles and create shots on the perimeter for themselves. Pete Maravich was a visionary that was simply ahead of his time basketball-wise. Before players like Allen Iverson and Kyrie Irving, it was Pete Maravich flashing his amazing ballhandling skills. One could only imagine the havoc he'd wreak if given a complete green light from range.

Despite his amazing scoring, his teams never got really far into the playoffs, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Pete Maravich averaged more than 20.0 PPG in every single playoff run that the Atlanta Hawks had, but his teams never got far in the postseason. When he moved to the Jazz, he didn't make the postseason a single time but averaged ridiculous scoring numbers as the primary offensive weapon on that team. It was only when he went to the Boston Celtics during his last season in the NBA (1979-1980), that he made it to the Eastern Conference Finals with a young Larry Bird. Pete Maravich retired at the end of the 1979-1980 season due to persistent injury issues.

Pete Maravich is an intriguing figure in the NBA, not only due to his basketball ability but also due to his relatively early. Pete Maravich died at the age of 40 during a pickup game due to an issue with his heart. An article by Bill Dwyre detailed the fateful day.

Drollinger, a 7-foot-2 center from La Mesa near San Diego who played on Wooden’s national championship teams in 1973 and ’75 and was the first collegiate player to make it to the Final Four all four years, got a call from Dobson the day before the pickup game in Pasadena. They had worked together on various Christian media productions, but Drollinger says his value that day was completely athletic.

“Jim said Maravich was coming to town and he needed me,” Drollinger says. “He wanted to win.

Drollinger, who postponed a pro career to play for Athletes in Action, a Christian evangelical team, and now heads the Members Bible Study that ministers to members of Congress in Washington, left his home in Lake Arrowhead that day at 4 a.m. to make it to the Pasadena gym for the 6:30 pickup game.

They played three-on-three for about 20 minutes and took a break. Drollinger walked to a drinking fountain and then Maravich — standing near Dobson, and just after proclaiming “I feel great” — collapsed. There were a few seconds, Drollinger says, “when we all thought he was faking, just joking.”

You can’t fake foaming at the mouth, and soon, Dobson and Drollinger were doing CPR.

“We worked on him for what seemed like an hour,” Drollinger says, “but it was probably 15 minutes. I think he was dead the minute he hit the ground.”

Drollinger, Dobson and others waited about two hours at Pasadena’s St. Luke’s Hospital for the inevitable news. The shocking detail was that Maravich, who had run tirelessly on basketball courts for 30 years of his life, had done so while missing a left coronary artery in his heart. His right coronary artery had become greatly enlarged and had given out.

It is a tragic way to die, and it is unfortunate that Maravich died doing what he loved most. It is unfathomable to think that one second he was fine, but then just collapsed. Maravich was one of the biggest names in sports, and his death impacted many. As mentioned, it is unbelievable that he managed to become a professional athlete with such a serious condition, and reached amazing individual heights. A fact that is just as crazy is that in a way, Pete Maravich actually predicted his untimely demise. A Los Angeles Times article detailed how in 1974, Maravich managed to predict the circumstances of his death.

Pete Maravich, in a 1974 interview with the Beaver County Times, said: “I don’t want to play 10 years in the NBA and die of a heart attack at age 40.”

He played pro ball for 10 years, from 1970 to 1980, and died of a heart attack Tuesday in Pasadena, at 40.

“That’s a little scary,” said sports writer Andy Nuzzo, who had interviewed Maravich when he played for the Atlanta Hawks.

“The story was laying on my desk when I got to work (Wednesday). I read it, and read it and read it and read it. I couldn’t believe it. Everything matched.

It is certainly a little unnerving to hear that the man managed to predict his own death, and especially crazy because all the details matched up perfectly: the exact number of years he spent playing in the NBA and the cause of death. Before his death, Pete Maravich wowed many audiences with his basketball skills: he was simply a box-office success. Pete Maravich achieved a lot at LSU and the NBA, and his legacy is set in stone. He has his jersey retired by multiple teams, and his name forever enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

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