Stephen and the Pistol

David Sink brought it up on DavidsonCats.com.

Bob Huggins brought it up on The Dan Patrick Show.

John Akers brought it up in his cover story in this month’s Basketball Times.

I brought it up, briefly, last month in Staying Stephen in Charlotte mag.

It’s hard not to start doing the math in your head. All of this is totally cart-before-the-horse, but let’s say Stephen stays four years, and let’s say he keeps scoring the way he’s scoring, and let’s say he plays in all of Davidson’s games. Let’s say that’s 60 more games. Let’s say he scores 30 points per. That’s 1,800 points. Add that to the number of points he has now, which is 1,948 going into Purdue.

That’s more than Maravich.

“Pistol” Pete Maravich was not big, 6-foot-3 and 150 pounds in his senior year of high school at Raleigh Broughton, and he was skinny and even gaunt during his years at LSU. But he scored like no one had ever scored before and like no one has ever scored since. He scored from all over the court. The points just piled up. He drew crowds everywhere LSU went. People just had to see him play.

He scored 40 or more 56 times.

He scored 50 or more 28 times.

He scored 3,667 points in his college career, the all-time college record, thought to be all but unbreakable, and he did it in three years because freshmen were ineligible to play varsity back then, and he did it, too, with no three-point line. He averaged more than 44 points a game. What made Maravich all the more compelling was that he didn’t look like he should have been able to do what he did.

Which gets to Stephen.

If he comes back for his senior season the Pistol talk is going to get loud.

But they’re more different than they are alike.

Read Mark Kriegel’s Pistol. Read Phil Berger’s Forever Showtime. Read the stories from Sports Illustrated in the archives on SI.com.

Maravich played, consciously and purposefully, to put on a show.

“If I have a choice whether to do the show or throw the straight pass, and we’re going to get the basket either way,” he told SI in 1969, “I’m going to do the show.

“Sometimes,” he said, “when we start out and I see the play developing, I just want to shout out, ‘Hey, here we go. Hey, everybody watch this.’”

He never won a game in the NCAA tournament.

He never played a game in the NCAA tournament.

In the NBA, he led the league in scoring, and he was an All-Star, but he seldom played on a team that won more than it lost.

The most points he ever scored in a game, college or pro, came against Alabama. He had 69. LSU lost.

He hurt his knee -- the injury that hastened the end of his career -- while throwing a between-the-legs pass on a three-on-oh break.

And then there’s this: He scored a ton of points, and he made a ton of money, but for most of his life he was very, very unhappy. His father was obsessive and pushed him mercilessly. His mother was mentally ill and committed suicide. He drank too much. He drove too fast. He felt old when he wasn’t. In the last few years of his life, before he died of a heart attack, at 40, he found some personal peace, finally. But during his career in the NBA, he often seemed moody or joyless, and he talked at times about aliens and UFOs and at one point painted a message to them on the roof of his condo in Atlanta.

“Take me.”

Pete Maravich played basketball as an escape from who he was.

Stephen Curry plays basketball as an extension of who he is.


George said...

Nice try.

Yes, Curry is amazing and - if he stays in school - he has a shot at Pete's totals.

But you leave out two IMPORTANT facts.

1. Pete had no 3-point line.
2. The NCAA Tourney had only 25 teams back then and only one team per conference was allowed in. Kentucky dominated the SEC.

Also, that story about Pete and the UFO is false - you should read the authorized biography of Pete Maravich. Not books that just recycle old, negative untrue rumors.

MichaelKruse said...

Hey there. Did in fact mention the three-point line. Next time I'll be sure to use only information from "authorized" biographies.

George said...


Sorry - my bad. It's just a shame that UFO "take me" story keeps getting repeated. It just never happened.