Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich

Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich

"Pistol" is more than the biography of a ballplayer. It's the stuff of classic novels: the story of a boy transformed by his father's dream -- and the cost of that dream. Even as Pete Maravich became Pistol Pete -- a basketball icon for baby boomers -- all the Maraviches paid a price. Now acclaimed author Mark Kriegel has brilliantly captured the saga of an American...

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Title:Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich
Author:Mark Kriegel
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Edition Language:English

Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich Reviews

  • Barnabas Piper

    When a fascinating, enigmatic cast of characters encounters a gifted biographer something special happens. This is just such an instance. I’m a committed basketball fan, but I knew few details of Pete’s life and almost none of his father’s. Their combined, symbiotic and parasitic relationship is heartbreaking and fascinating. To read a non-Christian author describe Pete’s transformation when he met Christ is equally fascinating - almost like reading about him meeting a unicorn. He finds it

    When a fascinating, enigmatic cast of characters encounters a gifted biographer something special happens. This is just such an instance. I’m a committed basketball fan, but I knew few details of Pete’s life and almost none of his father’s. Their combined, symbiotic and parasitic relationship is heartbreaking and fascinating. To read a non-Christian author describe Pete’s transformation when he met Christ is equally fascinating - almost like reading about him meeting a unicorn. He finds it magnetic, but not totally believable.

  • Steve Bennett

    Pete Maravich was one of the most flamboyant and exciting athletes of the 1970s. This excellent book is actually less about Pistol Pete and much more about his father Press Maravich. Press lost his own father at a young age in a mining fatality in Western PA. His mom remarried and Press became the forgotten stepson in the new family. Press as a youngster was going nowhere fast in a dead-end mining town until he went to a local religious youth group meeting where, perchance, they organized

    Pete Maravich was one of the most flamboyant and exciting athletes of the 1970s. This excellent book is actually less about Pistol Pete and much more about his father Press Maravich. Press lost his own father at a young age in a mining fatality in Western PA. His mom remarried and Press became the forgotten stepson in the new family. Press as a youngster was going nowhere fast in a dead-end mining town until he went to a local religious youth group meeting where, perchance, they organized basketball games for the children. Press became obsessed with basketball and nothing else and soon became the star of the high school team. After graduation, as a star athlete and apparently very good-looking, Press could have been popular on the dating scene. Yet, likely affected by his own life, Press quickly married a young widow and mother of an infant whose husband died in the war. Yet, in the cyclical nature of life, Press apparently soon ignored his stepson completely when Pete was born. Press remained obsessed with basketball and basketball strategy and soon became a top high school and collegiate coach in the early days of basketball. He also became more than completely obsessed in making his son the greatest basketball player of all time. Press forced or cajoled or encouraged Pete to practice basketball practically 18 hours a day, mostly working on dribbling and passing. Anyway, the book reads more like a Greek tragedy than a sports biography when Press starts abandoning all his old school defense-first team-oriented coaching skills once his son plays on his LSU team, his stepson withdraws from society and falls into abuse and addiction, his wife becomes a total alcoholic who dies much too early and finally Pete becomes a national celebrity and multi-millionaire. The book is completely riveting even for those who do not recall the glory days of Pistol Pete's playing days or indeed have never watched a basketball game.

  • Adamdaigle

    In the last few years I've often had the belief that Pete Maravich the legend was better than Pete Maravich the player because he was a white guy who was very good at basketball. This book disproves that belief. He was very good -- absolutely ahead of his time -- but he also struggled with some demons many of us don't have to deal with.

  • Pat Murphy

    This book was described by Colin Cowherd as being an excellent book. He was naming other book titles which he considered very good on his show and I wrote them all down and intend to read them. This one tells the life story of Pete Maravich, a star basketball player who played to national fame from the late sixties until about 1980. The tale is an interesting one. Pete's father was a driving force and the main force in Pete's basketball career. Pete was a complicated person who had his talents

    This book was described by Colin Cowherd as being an excellent book. He was naming other book titles which he considered very good on his show and I wrote them all down and intend to read them. This one tells the life story of Pete Maravich, a star basketball player who played to national fame from the late sixties until about 1980. The tale is an interesting one. Pete's father was a driving force and the main force in Pete's basketball career. Pete was a complicated person who had his talents and his faults. I enjoyed the writing. It was easy to read, and flowed better and better as the pages passed by. I could not put the book down for then last 50 pages and they were the ones not describing his playing. It included his life after his playing days were over, his death, and his sons and their trials and tribulations trying to begin their late teen and adult lives as persons and as ballplayers. I was not really a fan of Pete's. I just never started following him, and I am in Phoenix so I am a Phoenix fan. But this book makes me a fan. A great sports book. If you are a fan of Maravich, and have not read this, I think you will enjoy it.

  • Roz  Milner

    There’s a line in Mark Kriegel’s book “Pistol” that does a good job of summarizing Pete Maravich’s life, and the book, quite nicely - “I don’t want to play 10 years in the NBA and die of a heart attack at 40.”

    Instead, he died of a heart defect at 40, after playing in the NBA for almost 10 years.

    “Pistol” is not so much a biography as it is a study on passion and obsession and how the two can be confused. At it’s core it’s about how much a father, in this case Press Maravich, can drive his son

    There’s a line in Mark Kriegel’s book “Pistol” that does a good job of summarizing Pete Maravich’s life, and the book, quite nicely - “I don’t want to play 10 years in the NBA and die of a heart attack at 40.”

    Instead, he died of a heart defect at 40, after playing in the NBA for almost 10 years.

    “Pistol” is not so much a biography as it is a study on passion and obsession and how the two can be confused. At it’s core it’s about how much a father, in this case Press Maravich, can drive his son into greatness and tragedy. Into a legend, although one marred by tragedy.

    To me, the way Pete Maravich was described reminded me of Pete Rose. Rose took a one-time criticism from his father on not running out a groundball into a career known as Charlie Hustle, much in the same way that Press’ love for basketball led to the devotion that Pete poured into it, devoting his life to the game. However, Rose got off lightly compared to Maravich, who almost all of his life playing the game, almost never getting the respect he deserved, at least not until his career had finished.

    “Pistol” covers not just the life of Pete, but also that of Press. The book opens with a young Press, stuck with no future in a Pennsylvania steel town (where the sky was colored a flaming orange by the factories, notes Kriegel) discovers a way out - basketball, a game which he takes to almost immediately. The book was surely not off the mark when it says that Press mistook the game for salvation - it would dominate the rest of his life.

    From there the book covers Press’ exploits in the early days of professional basketball and the first few years of what to become his pastime, coaching. By the time that Pete was a small child, Press was coaching his just as much (and perhaps more) then he was with his team, the NC State Wolfpack.

    Here, the book goes into great detail, from newspaper clippings to interviews with people who were around, into this period of Pete’s life, when he was almost forced into basketball, practicing for hours a day, right up to during his teenage years. It was here, on the basketball court, that Pete found what he was craving all along - affection, from the fans who loved seeing his flashy moves and passes.

    The book does a great job of covering both the highs (His 68 point game against the Knicks, his record setting performances at LSU) and the lows (his knee injury, LSU’s collapse in the 1970 NIT) of his career, as well as the interesting dynamic of Press and Pete’s relationship, and how it changed over the years.

    It goes on, later, describing the aftermath of his NBA career - his depression, his spiritual rebirth as a born-again Christian, and eventually, his early death (on a basketball court, fittingly).

    Overall, “Pistol” is an interesting book - it paints a picture of Pete as a tragic and often depressed superstar, and does a very good job of it. It’s meticulously researched (there’s even a large list of footnotes and references included) and very well written, although it does compare Pete to another flawed legend, Joe Namath (who, by the way, was the subject of another book written by Mark Kriegel) on a regular basis.

    It’s definitely worth a read.

  • Jake

    A very good biography of an obsessed father who makes his son into one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Press Maravich had his son impressing people like John Wooden with his skills from grade school on. He was determined that his son would be the first million dollar player. Pete loved his dad but never found happiness until his career ended too soon and he found Jesus. He died young of a heart condition that should have killed him 20 years earlier and prevented sports. Decades

    A very good biography of an obsessed father who makes his son into one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Press Maravich had his son impressing people like John Wooden with his skills from grade school on. He was determined that his son would be the first million dollar player. Pete loved his dad but never found happiness until his career ended too soon and he found Jesus. He died young of a heart condition that should have killed him 20 years earlier and prevented sports. Decades after his death, the NBA finally plays like he did in the sixties. This tragic and inspirational biography can even be enjoyed by non sports fans.

  • Kirk

    Pistol Pete is the man. It cannot be argued that he changed basketball. If only more kids knew how much he practiced and followed his lead.

  • B. R. Reed

    Mark Kriegel wrote a well researched, well written and entertaining book. He did his homework. I thought I pretty much knew the Pete Maravich story but I really didn't. Some reviewers complain that there is too much in the book about Petar "Press" Maravich, Pete's father. I would have to disagree. To know Pete you need to know the father. Without Press there would not have been a Pistol Pete. Press Maravich was not a man without faults but he lived his life with passion. He followed his dreams.

    Mark Kriegel wrote a well researched, well written and entertaining book. He did his homework. I thought I pretty much knew the Pete Maravich story but I really didn't. Some reviewers complain that there is too much in the book about Petar "Press" Maravich, Pete's father. I would have to disagree. To know Pete you need to know the father. Without Press there would not have been a Pistol Pete. Press Maravich was not a man without faults but he lived his life with passion. He followed his dreams. He rose out of the gloomy & depressing steel mill environment of western PA. Press was an engaging man who overcame personal hardship. He served his country during WW II as a naval aviator and completed about 18 combat missions. Press (early on) devoted his life to basketball. He loved the sport & it consumed him. There were other coaches (including the great John Wooden) who sought his counsel on hoop strategy. He was an assistant to Everett Case at NC St. Press was an accomplished basketball strategist. Did he push Pete too hard when it came to basketball? Yes, but when Pete was a kid he loved the game. There needed to be more balance, more diversity in Pete's life. Pete needed to do the little but impt things when he was a kid. (He needed to complete his math homework & make his bed.) Mrs Maravich (Press's wife & Pete's mother) may have been driven to drink with family life revolving endlessly around basketball. One quick story about Press. When his stepson's girlfriend got pregnant she had the baby and Press & his wife raised the child as their own. Press was always there for the girl and shouldered the burden when it came to her care. That's character.

    When Pete finished high school it probably would have been better if he had broke with his father (relating to basketball) and enrolled at West Virginia. That's what Pete wanted to do but they ended up together at LSU, head coach and star player. At LSU Pete became a college basketball legend. In three yrs of varsity play he averaged 44 ppg. He remains the college all time leader in points scored and that record has stood since 1970. Pete was the original "Showtime" of basketball, a designation later adopted by the Magic Johnson L.A. Lakers team of the 80s. He was a tremendous ball handler and had an abundance of moves on the court. Mr Razzle-Dazzle. He was a tall guard who could take it to the basket and he had great shooting range. He certainly wasn't shy about shooting. Much like the Harlem Globetrotters people came to watch Pete for the show they expected. That became a problem. If you look at photos of Pete in both his college & pro days you will see a man with very sad eyes. There came a time when it wasn't fun anymore. Pete developed a serious drinking problem as a young man. He's lucky he didn't kill anyone with his wild driving. He may have also been a manic depressive. Who knows? He certainly displayed immaturity and excess as a young adult.

    Pistol Pete Maravich was an original when it came to basketball. I have mixed feelings about his game. Combining both his college & pro games he had to be well under .500 in the team wins column. Yes, he made all-pro in the NBA a few times but there was never anything close to a championship season. I have his Atlanta rookie card and a 1969 SI with Pete on the cover. So I was a fan. In my view the man simply needed more balance in his life. I think he really did find peace in his later yrs. He reported that God literally spoke to him one night (in retirement). "Be strong and lift thine own heart" are the audible words Pete heard from God late one night. It changed his life. Pete lived a few more yrs after becoming a Christian. He died in a church gym in Pasadena playing pickup hoops with Dr. James Dobson & others. He was gone much too soon.

    This is an excellent biography and if you are interested in the father & son team of Press & Pete Maravich this is the book for you. Well done.

  • Randy

    Older basketball fans will know that Pistol Pete was the Elvis of basketball, a white guy who could play "black" before the black guys did. He was an amazing ball handler and prolific scorer. If there had been a three point line in the late sixties when the Pistol was in college his average would have been 58 a game for his career! As it stands, his scoring record will never be broken. His is a sad story. Kriegel tells it pretty well. Pete dropped dead at age 40 playing in a pick up came with

    Older basketball fans will know that Pistol Pete was the Elvis of basketball, a white guy who could play "black" before the black guys did. He was an amazing ball handler and prolific scorer. If there had been a three point line in the late sixties when the Pistol was in college his average would have been 58 a game for his career! As it stands, his scoring record will never be broken. His is a sad story. Kriegel tells it pretty well. Pete dropped dead at age 40 playing in a pick up came with Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Pete had become a born again Christian and happy for the first time in his short life. Most curiously the autopsy discovered he suffered from a congenital heart problem which should have killed him at age twenty. Instead, he ran the court full speed for many, many years. I never got to see him in person but lived in Florida during his last year at LSU. He was on TV a lot and a marvel to watch. There are many YouTubes of the Pistol including clips from his classic video Homework Basketball where he demonstrates the fantastic drills invented by Pete and his b'ball coach father Press Maravich. Worth a read by hard core fans.

  • Hunter Oda

    The book Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich was not nearly as good as hoped it would be. Maybe it’s just that Pete’s life wasn’t as interesting as I thought or the author didn’t do a great job telling the story, but I was’t a big fan of this book. It starts out very slow talking about the story of Pete’s dad, Press. Press was a great basketball player too as a child. He loved the game more than anyone on any of his teams and he was willing to do anything just to play a few games of basketball. He

    The book Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich was not nearly as good as hoped it would be. Maybe it’s just that Pete’s life wasn’t as interesting as I thought or the author didn’t do a great job telling the story, but I was’t a big fan of this book. It starts out very slow talking about the story of Pete’s dad, Press. Press was a great basketball player too as a child. He loved the game more than anyone on any of his teams and he was willing to do anything just to play a few games of basketball. He even went to church so he could use the gym offered by the youth pastor. When Pete finally comes into the story, Press wants the absolute best for Pete. From day one Press pushed Pete very hard to be the best basketball player he could possibly be. My favorite parts were the stories of Pete’s commitment to practicing as a young child. Pete seriously practiced eight to ten hours a day no matter what the weather was or where he had to do it. During the school year, Pete didn’t take breaks from practicing either. Pete and his father had a goal from very early on in Pete’s life and that was for Pete to become the first athlete to be paid one million dollars. Finally when Pete got to the NBA he achieved his goal. If you love basketball and would like to know more about Pete Maravich’s life I would recommend this book, but other than that it is pretty dry.

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