Dr.J had a lot of respect for Pistol Pete
Julius Erving, a.k.a Dr.J, is the first premiere highflyer in the NBA, one of the greatest scorers, and a class act that doesn’t come very often. His legacy and impact on the generations of young players are unmatched, and even Michael Jordan said he was his idol growing up. Younger NBA fans probably don’t know how impactful he was, but if you look at his resume, you will soon understand why he is so respected around the league.
In his autobiography, Erving talked about the respect for another basketball legend, Pistol Pete Maravich, who is still the most prolific scorer in NCAA history. Erving recalls playing one-on-one against Maravich when they were both teammates for a short period of time with the Atlanta Hawks back in 1972. When they started with training camp at Savannah, Georgia, Erving was able to see firsthand what made Pistol Pete so unique and gave an interesting breakdown of his skillset and what made him stand out against any other player he played against up until then.
Playing one-on-one with Pete is an experience. He’s got the kind of shooting range that I’ve never seen before. He can shoot it consistently out of thirty-five feet, but if I’m going to go out there and defend that, then he’ll cross me up on the dribble and get a layup or a dunk. Pete has some great ups, and while he’s not known for getting to the rim, he throws some nice dunks down in our games, his hair flapping in the hot Georgia air. One of the things that makes Pete so great is his hang time, and no one talks about that. He can leave the floor and sort of stay up there long enough to fake one way and then pass another.Julius Erving, via Dr.J Autobiography
Erving and Pistol Pete had an arrangement that whoever loses that day pays dinner, and throughout the entire summer, they would stay after practice going up against each other. Other guys would also stay after practice and watch these two go up against each other, and Erving recalls he couldn’t stop Pistol Pete from getting to his spots and vice versa.
Heated one-on-one games
We play some fierce games that summer, one-on-one battles that go for an hour after practice, and some of the guys even come out to watch after they’ve showered. Pete can get anywhere on the floor with his dribble, and I can’t stop. But he can’t keep me from penetrating either. We play every day after practice, and I think we split the bills for those dinners about in half. Pete Maravich is the most skilled basketball player I’ve ever seen.Julius Erving, via Dr.J Autobiography
Unfortunately, they never played together as teammates after that summer because Erving was moved to an ABA team Virginia Squires and their careers went in totally different directions. Pistol Pete remained with the Hawks for a few years, and even though he was tremendous individually, he never achieved a lot with the teams he played for throughout his career. Erving, on the other hand became an NBA champion with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Them two playing together for the Atlanta Hawks is one of the biggest what-ifs in ABA/NBA history because there is no question they would make some noise together. They had a lot of respect for each other and loved playing with each other, which is essential when building great chemistry. Unfortunately, Pistol Pete died way too young from a heart attack at the age of 40 while playing a pick-up game. Nevertheless, he is still remembered as one of the flashiest and most prolific players this game has ever seen, and hopefully, younger NBA fans will learn more about him and the impact he had on the game of basketball.