Pistol Pete Maravich is one of those stars that were definitely ahead of their time, displaying an offensive game that presented something new and different in the 70s. Even though he was one of the best individual players of his era, Maravich never quite managed to translate his flashy play to team success. But it was more about the help around him.
Going after your GM
Maravich spent his career with the Hawks, Jazz, and the Celtics, but his most notable stint was in New Orleans. At this point, Pete was in his prime, trying to prove he could win a championship. In the 1976-1977 season, Maravich would have his best individual season, averaging 31.1 ppg, 5.4apg, and 5.1 rpg.
In the coming off-season, Maravich was a free agent. He wanted to return to the Jazz, but only if the front office brought him some help. The Jazz GM Lewis Schaffel granted his wish and signed power forward Leonard "Truck" Robinson who coming off a breakout season with the Hawks. But as faith would have it, Schaffel wouldn't give the new duo too much time to gel.
A slow 17-21 start started trouble in New Orleans. Although the individual numbers were good, the GM let it know publically that Maravich is on the trade block, explaining he is not the type of player you can win a championship with. Safe to say, Pistol didn't appreciate those comments.
"He's a lying, backstabbing son of a bit*h who's been out to get me from the start. Schaffel doesn't know a basketball from a turkey bladder. We could make the playoffs if he'd take a vacation. Like, to Iraq."
Pete Maravich, The Tuscaloosa News
The aftermath of Maravich's comments
After those comments, Maravich would go on an absolute rampage, averaging 30 ppg and 9 apg over the next nine games while thriving in other aspects of his game. His defense would improve, team chemistry would rise, and Pete would finally look like one of the three top players in the whole league.
It was a hell of a run, as Maravich put himself into the MVP conversation with Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He wouldn't get it, but at least Maravich would find comfort in winning his second straight-scoring title. This would be the first and only season for GM Lewis Schaffel, as the toxic relationship with his superstar wasn't fixable.
As for the Pistol, many consider this to be his last superstar season, as injuries slowly started to plague his career and made him retire in 1980 at 32 years old.