Vidakovich column: Maravich memories |

Vidakovich column: Maravich memories

Mike Vidakovich

A few weeks back, in the sports briefs section of the Denver Post, I read that a young man from Detroit Mercy University had moved into second place on the NCAA college basketball all-time scoring list. His name is Antoine Davis and he had just scored 42 points in a game the previous day to pass Freeman Williams, who played at Portland State in the mid-1970s.

Davis, a fifth-year graduate player, has amassed 3,274 points in his collegiate career, which puts him behind only Pistol Pete Maravich who starred at Louisiana State University in the late 1960s. Maravich, who was coached by his father, Press Maravich, scored 3,667, a total which is well within the reach of Davis.

Growing up in Glenwood Springs in the 1960s, this hotshot from LSU who they called “The Pistol” was my boyhood basketball idol. Back then there was no cable TV, so college basketball games on television were usually relegated to the single game on Saturday afternoon’s CBS broadcast. Since these games almost always featured the powerhouses of that time such as UCLA, Indiana and North Carolina, I never got to see Pete play in college.

My first time seeing Maravich play, other than on the late night sports highlights, was when he was a rookie with the Atlanta Hawks. It was in New York’s famed Madison Square Garden, on national TV against the Knicks. Pistol Pete made a behind-the-back pass on a fast break that not only faked out Knick’s guard Walt Frazier, but had my dad jumping out of his seat and asking me, “Did you see that, Mikey?!” Of course I did, pops. This is my hero dressed in shorts, a tank top and floppy gray work socks which were his trademark.

At that time, I was convinced that Pete Maravich was born in a manger, walked on water, and could feed the multitudes.

If you have taken the time to read this far, you may just be convinced that what I have to say from this point on is a bit biased, but in actuality, I’m just giving you a few facts to ponder in case this Davis guy actually does break Pete’s scoring record.

First of all, as I mentioned above, Davis is a fifth-year senior, that means he had four full season to accumulate the point total he is at now, and that is with a 3-point line and more games being played each season than back in Pete’s time.

When Maravich played, freshmen were not eligible to compete at the varsity level, so he scored all of those points in just three years. Legend has it that when the freshmen played at LSU, the stands were packed to watch this young phenom from the steel city of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania play. The stands would pretty much empty for the varsity game at LSU.

Maravich played far fewer games in his three seasons than what is allowable today and there was no 3-point line back then. Pete averaged 44.2 points per game (that is not a misprint) for his career. When Dale Brown took the coaching job at LSU in the 1990s, he watched all of the games on tape that Maravich played in his career, charting the long bombs that would have counted as 3 instead of just 2 points. Brown came up with the calculation that had there been a 3-point line when Maravich was playing, he would have averaged an astounding 52 points per game.

Just some things to think about folks, if you see down the road near the end of the season that Davis did indeed eclipse Pete’s record. I’m not sure that I will recognize it, and I do hope when it happens that it will be pointed out by the national scribes and broadcasters some of the facts I have mentioned.

Pistol Pete Maravich passed away at the young age of 40 years while playing a pickup basketball game in a church gym in Pasadena, California. It was January 5, 1988 and I will never forget that evening when I walked into my parent’s home and my father told me the news.

It turns out Pete had major problems with his heart, and doctors were amazed that he had lived as long as he did, based on the strenuous physical activities he had engaged in for so many years.

I always joke with my sixth grade friend Hayden Picore that Pete was much better than her idol, Steph Curry. She just gives me a look like, “C’mon old dude,” and she rolls her eyes. You know what? I would have done the same thing at that age to someone who tried to tell me that Pete wasn’t the top dog.

Pistol Pete will always be the greatest basketball player who ever walked the earth in my eyes, and that’s all that matters.

Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer, teacher and youth sports coach. His column appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.