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"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 family "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 family: its rise, its apparent ruin, and, finally, its redemption. Almost four decades have passed since Maravich entered the national consciousness as basketball's boy wizard. No one had ever played the game like the kid with the floppy socks and shaggy hair. And all these years later, no one else ever has. The idea of Pistol Pete continues to resonate with young people today just as powerfully as it did with their fathers. In averaging 44.2 points a game at Louisiana State University, he established records that will never be broken. But even more enduring than the numbers was the sense of ecstasy and artistry with which he played. With the ball in his hands, Maravich had a singular power to inspire awe, inflict embarrassment, or even tell a joke. But he wasn't merely a mesmerizing showman. He was basketball's answer to Elvis, a white Southerner who sold Middle America on a black man's game. Like Elvis, he paid a terrible price, becoming a prisoner of his own fame. Set largely in the South, Kriegel's "Pistol," a tale of obsession and basketball, fathers and sons, merges several archetypal characters. Maravich was a child prodigy, a prodigal son, his father's ransom in a Faustian bargain, and a Great White Hope. But he was also a creature of contradictions: always the outsider but a virtuoso in a team sport, anexuberant showman who wouldn't look you in the eye, a vegetarian boozer, an athlete who lived like a rock star, a suicidal genius saved by Jesus Christ. A renowned biographer -- "People" magazine called him "a master" -- Kriegel renders his subject with a style that is, by turns, heartbreaking, lyrical, and electric. The narrative begins in 1929, the year a missionary gave Pete's father a basketball. Press Maravich had been a neglected child trapped in a hellish industrial town, but the game enabled him to blossom. It also caused him to confuse basketball with salvation. The intensity of Press's obsession initiates a journey across three generations of Maraviches. Pistol Pete, a ballplayer unlike any other, was a product of his father's vanity and vision. But that dream continues to exact a price on Pete's own sons. Now in their twenties -- and fatherless for most of their lives -- they have waged their own struggles with the game and its ghosts. "Pistol" is an unforgettable biography. By telling one family's history, Kriegel has traced the history of the game and a large slice of the American narrative.


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"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 family "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 family: its rise, its apparent ruin, and, finally, its redemption. Almost four decades have passed since Maravich entered the national consciousness as basketball's boy wizard. No one had ever played the game like the kid with the floppy socks and shaggy hair. And all these years later, no one else ever has. The idea of Pistol Pete continues to resonate with young people today just as powerfully as it did with their fathers. In averaging 44.2 points a game at Louisiana State University, he established records that will never be broken. But even more enduring than the numbers was the sense of ecstasy and artistry with which he played. With the ball in his hands, Maravich had a singular power to inspire awe, inflict embarrassment, or even tell a joke. But he wasn't merely a mesmerizing showman. He was basketball's answer to Elvis, a white Southerner who sold Middle America on a black man's game. Like Elvis, he paid a terrible price, becoming a prisoner of his own fame. Set largely in the South, Kriegel's "Pistol," a tale of obsession and basketball, fathers and sons, merges several archetypal characters. Maravich was a child prodigy, a prodigal son, his father's ransom in a Faustian bargain, and a Great White Hope. But he was also a creature of contradictions: always the outsider but a virtuoso in a team sport, anexuberant showman who wouldn't look you in the eye, a vegetarian boozer, an athlete who lived like a rock star, a suicidal genius saved by Jesus Christ. A renowned biographer -- "People" magazine called him "a master" -- Kriegel renders his subject with a style that is, by turns, heartbreaking, lyrical, and electric. The narrative begins in 1929, the year a missionary gave Pete's father a basketball. Press Maravich had been a neglected child trapped in a hellish industrial town, but the game enabled him to blossom. It also caused him to confuse basketball with salvation. The intensity of Press's obsession initiates a journey across three generations of Maraviches. Pistol Pete, a ballplayer unlike any other, was a product of his father's vanity and vision. But that dream continues to exact a price on Pete's own sons. Now in their twenties -- and fatherless for most of their lives -- they have waged their own struggles with the game and its ghosts. "Pistol" is an unforgettable biography. By telling one family's history, Kriegel has traced the history of the game and a large slice of the American narrative.

30 review for Pistol: A Biography of Pete Maravich

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brett C

    This was a well-written and good biography about the legend himself. The author starts out with a detailed account following from the Maraviches from Yugoslavia, to the early life of Press Maravich, and finally getting to his son, 'Pistol' Pete Maravich. The Pistol's early childhood and young adolescence was filled with countless practice, his drill-instructor of a father Press, and a limitless talent. As an eighth-grader he played varsity at the high school level. "Pistol Pete. The sportswriter This was a well-written and good biography about the legend himself. The author starts out with a detailed account following from the Maraviches from Yugoslavia, to the early life of Press Maravich, and finally getting to his son, 'Pistol' Pete Maravich. The Pistol's early childhood and young adolescence was filled with countless practice, his drill-instructor of a father Press, and a limitless talent. As an eighth-grader he played varsity at the high school level. "Pistol Pete. The sportswriter came up with other names for him, including Little Mr. Big, Mighty Mite, and Poppin' Pete. But none of them fit as well. Pistol Pete worked just as a nickname should...the ball came off his hip, like a gunslinger, and he was never, ever shy to shoot. He had a long, thin neck, didn't look athletic at all. You would not suspect he could do the things he did—until he did them. He was doing stuff you had never seen before, things that mesmerized you." pg. 77 Pistol Pete eventually succumbed to the tension and pressure that came from his ball skills that dwarfed the NBA of that era. Under pressure and trying to the fill the void, he took to alcohol and became overcome with depression. He became reclusive from friends and family and began exploring Hinduism, veganism, survivalism, and extraterrestrialism. "So many times", Pete would recall, "suicide came into my thoughts. All I had to do was turn the wheel just 10 degrees, and it would be history. Everybody would say 'What an accident. Isn't it terrible what happened to Pistol Pete?'", pg. 275 Laying in bed one early morning he asked God "Please, save me, please. Take me. He began to weep. Deliver me. Finally, he hear an audible voice: Be strong and lift thine own heart. It was the voice of God.", pg. 275 He devoted his life to God and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to the youth through his basketball camps. His ministry became his life and at that point, Pete finally found inner peace and joy. Then while playing a pick up game with a friend at the camp, he collapsed of a heart attack on the court. He was only 40 years old, pg. 291 This is a decent story of the legendary Pistol Pete. This biography is good and I read the Wayne Federman story because it is just as good, maybe even better. I would recommend it to any basketball or sports fan. Thanks!

  2. 5 out of 5

    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 magne 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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    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 int 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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    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 Dr 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    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 a 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    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 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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    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 basket 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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rach

    Not just an in-depth look into the life and career of basketball legend “Pistol” Pete Maravich, but also the lives of his father, Press, and his sons, Jason and Joshua. Basketball was truly a calling for this whole family, a rollercoaster of ups and downs that have defined and shaped their lives for decades. I’m also impressed with how much detailed basketball history was contained in this book. From it’s early inception to its transformation over the years into the entertainment sport it is toda Not just an in-depth look into the life and career of basketball legend “Pistol” Pete Maravich, but also the lives of his father, Press, and his sons, Jason and Joshua. Basketball was truly a calling for this whole family, a rollercoaster of ups and downs that have defined and shaped their lives for decades. I’m also impressed with how much detailed basketball history was contained in this book. From it’s early inception to its transformation over the years into the entertainment sport it is today, we are taken through every moment, and shown how Press and Pete fit within that history. From the early leagues to the creation of the college conferences, it’s really fascinating to see how teams and programs grew into what they are today. I’m not a huge basketball fan these days, but I enjoyed playing as a kid, and I had a particular fascination with Pistol Pete, mostly because of the movie then mention towards the end, “Pistol: Birth of a Legend.” We taped that movie off the TV and I would watch it over and over. I never practiced enough to actually get the hang off all those dribbling drills, but I loved watching them and tried my best! I actually don’t remember the religious aspects of the movie mentioned, but that’s possibly because I grew up in the church, and so much of we watched was tinged with religious imagery and descriptions that it just seemed normal. What makes me sad is that Joshua was never given a chance to truly play at LSU. I honestly don’t get his reasoning for staying, knowing he was going to sit on the bench, but it’s less important that I understand than he does, and he had his reasons. I’m mostly mad at that coach. What’s the point of having someone on your team if you never let them play and don’t even notice if they are at practice? It’s the same frustration I felt every time Pete was held back and ignored by coaches and teammates who just didn’t like him. Extreme annoyance and disappointment. Now that Pete’s gone, I hope those people look back and feel regret over their actions. I wonder what could have been if people had just let Pete play. But we’ll never know.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Laura Edwards

    Years ago while in high school, I read another biography about Pistol Pete ("Pistol Pete Maravich" by Bill Gutman) and liked it enough that I (confession time here) swiped it from the library. What I remember most were Pete's mom committed suicide and Pete spun the ball so much on his fingers, the fingernail wore down. Oh, and that he dribbled the ball out the car window while his dad drove down the street. I couldn't really say how much detail was in the other biography, but Mark Kriegel's book Years ago while in high school, I read another biography about Pistol Pete ("Pistol Pete Maravich" by Bill Gutman) and liked it enough that I (confession time here) swiped it from the library. What I remember most were Pete's mom committed suicide and Pete spun the ball so much on his fingers, the fingernail wore down. Oh, and that he dribbled the ball out the car window while his dad drove down the street. I couldn't really say how much detail was in the other biography, but Mark Kriegel's book was wonderfully detailed from before Pete was born until after his death. I really liked all the information on Press (he was much more a caricature of a sports father in the other book). Kriegel paints a nuanced portrait of a man with faults and positive characteristics. I was most impressed with his "color blindness" at a time when prejudice was the norm and also with the way he raised his daughter/granddaughter Diana. However, the pressure he put on Pete from the moment of birth was regrettable. And though I don't doubt he loved his wife, she remained a secondary priority to him throughout her troubled life. While Kriegel takes a decent look at the troubles plaguing Helen which led to her suicide, at the point of her death it feels as if the suicide is glossed over. Purposeful, perhaps? A metaphor for how Helen was kind of neglected in life by both Press and Pete. I loved all the history of the game which is interspersed throughout the story. And I like how Kriegel gives a glimpse of Pete's sons and their journey into adulthood. A very thorough and interesting biography. It even prompted me to go on youtube and watch some videos of Pete in action. I'm glad to know he finally found peace at the end of his life since the journey was so fraught with stress, pressure and frustration.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Isiah Maddox

    SPOILERS Isiah Maddox Mr. Herman Nonfiction 4-15-19 The Biography of Pistol Pete was a really good book. Pistol Pete had a very good life and basketball career, winning various awards for basketball. His father really only cared about his success in basketball and not so much his son. I feel like anyone who likes the history of basketball should read this book. This book talks about how Pete grew up, he lived in a group home when he was younger. His mom remarried which meant he was the forgotten ste SPOILERS Isiah Maddox Mr. Herman Nonfiction 4-15-19 The Biography of Pistol Pete was a really good book. Pistol Pete had a very good life and basketball career, winning various awards for basketball. His father really only cared about his success in basketball and not so much his son. I feel like anyone who likes the history of basketball should read this book. This book talks about how Pete grew up, he lived in a group home when he was younger. His mom remarried which meant he was the forgotten stepson. This book talks about his father Press, more than Pete. Pete joined a religious youth group that organized basketball games for the children and soon after he started playing he became a star for his high school team. After High School Pete went to play college basketball and he did very well. He went and set multiple records for the NCAA that might never be broken. If there was a three-point line in the sixties Pete would’ve had 58 points per game and that would have been another NCAA basketball record. He broke 12 NCAA basketball records. When Pete went to the NBA there was no doubt he would be good but he was an all time great. Pete had the best dribble moves anyone had ever seen at that time. He also had one of the best shots of all time and if there had been a three-point line Pete would be up there with other shooting greats like Stephen Curry. One of Pete’s lifetime goals was to be paid a million dollars and it happened. Pete would soon become an all time great and all he can do is thank his father for motivating him every single day. Unfortunately Pete died at age 40 while playing a pick up game.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David Doty

    Having gone to many Utah Jazz games over the years, and repeatedly gazed at Pete Maravich's retired jersey hanging from the rafters, I have always been curious about this mythic player, who died too young, of a heart abnormality at age 40, while playing a pickup basketball game at a church. This fascinating biography fills in many of the details of the "Pistol's" brief life, from his upbringing in a Serbian-American family in Pennsylvania, to his stellar college career at LSU, to his brief but st Having gone to many Utah Jazz games over the years, and repeatedly gazed at Pete Maravich's retired jersey hanging from the rafters, I have always been curious about this mythic player, who died too young, of a heart abnormality at age 40, while playing a pickup basketball game at a church. This fascinating biography fills in many of the details of the "Pistol's" brief life, from his upbringing in a Serbian-American family in Pennsylvania, to his stellar college career at LSU, to his brief but star-crossed journey in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans/Utah Jazz, and Boston Celtics. Maravich certainly had an abundance of talent, and could wow the most jaded of fans with his other-worldly ball handling skills and crack shot from nearly anywhere on the court. Yet his life was undeniably tragic, and while he seemed to find peace after retiring from basketball as a born-again Christian, he always seemed to live under the shadow of other peoples' expectations, especially his hard-driving father's, and basketball seemed like more of a burden than a privilege. This is a cautionary tale about the dangers of pushing kids too hard, the temptations that come with money and fame, and the struggles of living in the public eye. Pete Maravich was a tremendous talent who seemed to bring a lot of joy to people who watched him play, and to his immediate family, but who never could find peace with the game. He did, however, play way ahead of his time, and it is interesting to think about how his career might have turned out differently if he was born a generation later.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bill reilly

    Destiny should be the title of this book. Press Maravich worked in a steel mill and at the same time became obsessed with basketball. After coming home after WWII as a pilot, he played professional basketball in his 30’s shortly before the formation of the NBA. His son Pete dazzled legendary coach John Wooden with his ball handling skills at the age of twelve. Press blindfolded his son and placed gloves on his hands to improve his dexterity with the ball. Vince Lombardi had nothing on Press. Pet Destiny should be the title of this book. Press Maravich worked in a steel mill and at the same time became obsessed with basketball. After coming home after WWII as a pilot, he played professional basketball in his 30’s shortly before the formation of the NBA. His son Pete dazzled legendary coach John Wooden with his ball handling skills at the age of twelve. Press blindfolded his son and placed gloves on his hands to improve his dexterity with the ball. Vince Lombardi had nothing on Press. Pete inherited his mother’s fondness for alcohol, especially beer. Somehow, his drinking did not diminish his genius on the basketball court. His Houdini like prowess drew huge and adoring crowds. The Atlanta Hawks drafted Pete and gave him a $1.5 million contract. He played with four black players and the racial tension was palpable. After a poor start, Maravich scored forty points at MSG against the Knicks. After four seasons with the Hawks, Pete was traded to the expansion New Orleans Jazz. Family tragedy and injuries plagued him during his first season in Louisiana. His career best sixty-eight points was accomplished against the Knicks Walt Frazier in 1977. He retired after ten injury riddled seasons in the NBA. A heart attack killed Maravich at the age of forty in 1988. His legacy as the innovator of showtime basketball is secure.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Richard Brand

    This is a clear report on the troubled and dysfunctional life of what was perhaps the greatest ball handler and shooting guard in the history of basketball. As is true of life no one gets the great highs without having a matching great burden of lows. Pistol Pete had a perfectionist father who was always pointing out the mistakes rather than celebrating the wonders of his son. His mother was an alcoholic who shot herself. His brother had a daughter he would care for. Pete was introducing show ti This is a clear report on the troubled and dysfunctional life of what was perhaps the greatest ball handler and shooting guard in the history of basketball. As is true of life no one gets the great highs without having a matching great burden of lows. Pistol Pete had a perfectionist father who was always pointing out the mistakes rather than celebrating the wonders of his son. His mother was an alcoholic who shot herself. His brother had a daughter he would care for. Pete was introducing show time basketball and the basketball world was not ready for it. He had coaches and players who resented his abilities. He had racial conflicts with players. His salary infuriated other players. And still he was an incredible talent and left his mark upon the game. I began to read this because I had always admired his talent, but as I read it I kept hoping he would find someone to help him with his challenges. He finally found religion to give him a wholeness and he died at peace. The sadness continued as his sons tried to follow his teaching and learn his skills and mastered most of them, but did not have nearly as much success as they hoped.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Alkire

    This is one of the better biographies I’ve read this year. Actually, this is my third reading of this book, but first in over ten years. After first reading in 2008 and then again in 2009 I really liked Press and disliked Pete. After ten years of life more, I don’t like Press nearly as much…he just did not seem to coach Pete correctly and shouldn’t have coached Pete in college. Meanwhile I sympathize more with Pete’s struggle with pressure and eventually finding peace. I can’t condone Pete’s lif This is one of the better biographies I’ve read this year. Actually, this is my third reading of this book, but first in over ten years. After first reading in 2008 and then again in 2009 I really liked Press and disliked Pete. After ten years of life more, I don’t like Press nearly as much…he just did not seem to coach Pete correctly and shouldn’t have coached Pete in college. Meanwhile I sympathize more with Pete’s struggle with pressure and eventually finding peace. I can’t condone Pete’s lifestyle, he basically destroyed his basketball career by not listening and learning, but his dad really did make him that way. Anyway, the biography is top notch. It’s compelling and readable almost to the end, hard to put down. The author seems fair in his portrayals of Press and Pete and family. The last couple of chapters could have been shortened a bit, but up to that point, the book is excellent. So, on the whole, I’ll give this one a 5. The writing is superb and the narrative is gripping almost to the end. The subjects are treated fairly and I’m sure I’ll want to reread this in a few years. What more could one want from a biography?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mdc

    First off I'm a huge basketball fan, and have played my whole life. I really didn't know much about Pistol Pete before reading this book. The book spends a lot of time at the beginning on Press Maravitch (Pete's father). I wasn't sure why the book was spending so much time on him at first, but it makes sense, since Press was so involved with The Pistol's basketball beginnings, and coaching him at LSU (which I was unaware of). The last section of the book focuses on Pete's two sons, everything is First off I'm a huge basketball fan, and have played my whole life. I really didn't know much about Pistol Pete before reading this book. The book spends a lot of time at the beginning on Press Maravitch (Pete's father). I wasn't sure why the book was spending so much time on him at first, but it makes sense, since Press was so involved with The Pistol's basketball beginnings, and coaching him at LSU (which I was unaware of). The last section of the book focuses on Pete's two sons, everything is nicely tied together. The book was very well thought out. My favourite parts of the book were references to Pete's basketball talents as a young boy, such as dribbling while blindfolded. The only negative thing I can say about the book (which probably has to do more with me than the book) is that I would get confused with all the names referened (was that guy an assistant to Press or a friend...who was he again?) I highly recommend this book for any basketball fan or anyone wanting to know more about Pistol Pete.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Robbie

    Overall an interesting insight into the life of Pete Maravich (as the title would suggest..) however it also focuses extensively on his father Press Maravich & laterally his two sons, Jaeson and Josh. A lot of detail is given to describe Pete's ascent from standout college player to NBA star, including information regarding his contract and endorsements however for me I would've enjoyed the book more had there been greater emphasis put onto his NBA career as I felt this part of the novel was rath Overall an interesting insight into the life of Pete Maravich (as the title would suggest..) however it also focuses extensively on his father Press Maravich & laterally his two sons, Jaeson and Josh. A lot of detail is given to describe Pete's ascent from standout college player to NBA star, including information regarding his contract and endorsements however for me I would've enjoyed the book more had there been greater emphasis put onto his NBA career as I felt this part of the novel was rather short. Don't think I would read again in a hurry but still glad that I took the time to read it!

  20. 5 out of 5

    David Schrock

    Pete Maravich's life is fascinating by itself. In this thorough history, Mark Kriegel gives the full story including the beginning of professional basketball in America, many of the racial tensions related to basketball's early days, and the sweet and strained relationship between a father and a son who both made basketball an idol. Thankfully, Mark Kriegel's book includes the salvation testimony of Pete Maravich and his father, Press. While basketball is clearly the defining feature of Pete's fa Pete Maravich's life is fascinating by itself. In this thorough history, Mark Kriegel gives the full story including the beginning of professional basketball in America, many of the racial tensions related to basketball's early days, and the sweet and strained relationship between a father and a son who both made basketball an idol. Thankfully, Mark Kriegel's book includes the salvation testimony of Pete Maravich and his father, Press. While basketball is clearly the defining feature of Pete's fame; Jesus Christ became the defining feature of his life before he died.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Evin Beck

    I reached for this book as I had little knowledge of Pistol Pete and I wanted to know more about the star. This book involved more than the star as it included a lot of information on the history of basketball, the life of Press Maravich (Pete's dad) as well as Pete's two sons. I went into this book looking for an uplifting read but it was a little depressing. Everyone has their own demons. Some people show them visually and some do not. Worth the read just go into it knowing what to expect.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pat Vulaj

    This is a phenomenal book that reads like a novel, but then you realize these are real people, not fictional characters, and it makes it all the more interesting. You travel from the early 1900s to the early 2000s rather seamlessly and become attached to each generation of Maravich. I would highly recommend this to anyone, whether you know who Pistol Pete is or even like basketball. This is just a flat our great book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Zac Huguet

    I felt this book is a very good book for serious basketball fans and people who want to learn about he life of Pete Maravich. This book I feel takes a while to get going as the beginning is very slow and was challenging for me but once the book started to get going I really enjoyed the book as a whole.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Vosper

    A good bio on the Pistol. I learned a lot more about him and probably a much more balanced view on his father and his family. Press, his dad, was quite the player and coach as well. Being Pistol Pete must have been quite the burden most of the time. A well done story for any basketball (or sport) fan.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karl

    I was not following basketball closely but do remember Pete. Not knowing the specifics of his life it was very interesting. Amazing to read the dedication and obsession that Pete had for the game and the pressure that his ability caused him. If you have ant interest in him I think you will enjoy this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Macke

    It's a five-star book because it's a five-star story ... I can't say that I recall anything about the writing, a compliment, I believe, about the author's efficiency and style ... Sports fans need to remember Pistol Pete because he was a basketball genius who, like so many of the brightest stars, burned-out brilliantly fast, leaving a fleeting image unless we share him with our sons and daughters

  27. 5 out of 5

    Grindy Stone

    Reading this I came away with the conclusion that Pistol Pete was an overrated gunner who never won a meaningful game in his life. The author should have realized this as there is about 200 pages of material on Pete, the other third of the book is about his dad.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jon Koebrick

    I don’t read a lot of biographies but the story of Pistol Pete Maravich was compelling and well written. It’s interesting to learn about a guy with so much talent but whom I probably would not have enjoyed playing with in a game.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Spence

    I don't know why I read some of these biographies. They are just sad sometimes and you realize these people you had propped up in your mind as having the best life ever sometimes have it worse off than you do. Great read though and it was good to learn more about this amazing player.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bret Eubank

    Hoops. Ambition. Poverty. Religion. Father-son dynamics. Life as a prodigy. What an excellent book! I knew some about Pete prior to reading this and yet when I finished the character that really stood out was Pete's father, Press.

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