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How Pistol Pete inspired Magic Johnson and the rest of the NBA

Why legends like Nate "Tiny" Archibald considered Pistol Pete Maravich the hardest player to guard in the 70s.
Pistol Pete inspired Earvin Johnson to become Magic

Pistol Pete inspired Earvin Johnson to become Magic

The beautiful thing about the NBA is that the game is passed on from one generation to another. The current generation adopts some of the best features from the previous one and evolves them to pave the future. Just take a look at how "Pistol" Pete Maravich changed and inspired the game of basketball during his time as proof.

Play and entertain

Before Kyrie Irving was known as this generation's most skilled player, there were Steve Nash and Magic Johnson, who both patterned their game mechanics after Pistol Pete. Maravich was known as one of the most influential players in history because he had lethal ball-handling skills, passing abilities and basically everything a combo-guard in today's NBA embodies.

Johnson, dubbed as a top-five player of all time, said it himself. The Los Angeles Lakers legend mimicked Pistol Pete's ability to turn the basketball game into a form of art — through his dribbling, crossovers, passing, and scoring that served as a way for him not just to be a menace on the court but also entertain the world.

"Boy, could he play basketball and he could entertain you. The no look passes, the dribble the ball and pat it one hand. That's what I saw from Pistol Pete and that's where I got it from," said Johnson.

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Like Pistol Pete, Johnson had to find a way to impact the game with his guard skills, given that the league was dominated by gigantic centers and forwards during his time. The same goes for today's generation, where combo-guards like Irving, Steph Curry, LaMelo Ball, and more use their court-vision and handles to their advantage. Pistol Pete was a pioneer of such style of play, as he averaged 24.2 points and shot 66% from the 3-point area in his ten years in the NBA.

The first white boy with razzle-dazle

That's why notable legends like Nate "Tiny Archibald" considered Pistol Pete the hardest to guard during the 1970s. According to Archibald, Maravich was the first white boy in the NBA with all the razzle-dazzle in his dribbling that nobody possessed. His ability to dribble the ball, cross it over behind his back to confuse his defender while at the same time knocking down a shot was what made him one of the most entertaining players in basketball history.

Aside from his swagger on the court, Pistol Pete also evolved the game wardrobe that many guards follow until today. His game also spoke through his stylish flipping socks and appealing shoe designs. Those stylish designs mimicked his game, and it was what many legends were also inspired by back in the day.

Pistol Pete's legacy will always be remembered through his style in and out of the court and for turning basketball into an entertaining form of art. Today's game probably wouldn't have the same manner, swagger, and vision today without him. 

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