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on March 15, 2016
I have loved Pistol Pete form the very first moment I saw him play. I still think he is the greatest basketball player ever. This story is honest, talking bout Pet's downfalls as well as his strengths. You get an inside look at a very unique life and how it lead to Pete's success as a basketball player. It also gives the history of the game since its inception and how the game has evolved into what it is today. If you are a lover of basketball, this is the book for you. Its not only the inside story of Pete, which is amazing, but also the inside story of basketball and how it went from an ignored aport to what it is today. Great story.
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on November 5, 2014
Really good biography about one of best showman and talented players in basketball history. Kriegel goes into detail about what made up Pete and how got to where he was. Pete's dad,Press,really molded him into being the showman that he became. Maravich was like a child star who rose to fame as a youth and then had to deal with the realities of it when he became an adult. Maravich had many vices and things he had to overcome. He eventually did after leaving basketball. He was probably the most at peace with himself when he died at the very young age of 40. This is a really good in depth biography of a great basketball player who was way ahead of his times. A must read for any fan especially if you were around during his era.
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on July 22, 2007
Whether you are a basketball fan or not this biography of Pete Maravich will provide you with lessons to be learned. People search for happiness in all the wrong places such as alcohol, fame, or even in their chosen profession. Pete Maravich's stage was a basketball floor, but during his heyday as a college star at LSU and being coached by his father happiness eluded him. His introduction to the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks and later with the New Orleans/Utah Jazz, and finally the Boston Celtics brought him more heartache than pleasure. It wasn't until his playing days were over and by simple faith accepted Jesus Christ as his savior that the load he had been carrying was finally removed. He found happiness in the simple things in life by being devoted to his two sons and telling others what Christ had done for him. The loss of his father was a difficult blow to him, but he took comfort in knowing that he, too, had accepted the Lord into his life. Biographies of people can teach us a lot, not the least of which is that others, who we often think of as living famous and glamorous lives, are often saddled with problems we can be thankful we don't have. While anyone who enjoys biographies would enjoy this book I think it would be especially appreciated by high school students who love basketball.
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on March 30, 2017
Very eye opening. Basketball fans must read.
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on April 7, 2017
Seller performed as represented.
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VINE VOICEon February 27, 2007
As a basketball fan old enough to watch Pete play in college I looked forward to this book which far exceeded expectations. I read Kriegel's book on Namath and found it a little too detailed and slow to read. This book reads much quicker and provided many facts of which I was unaware. For example, I had no idea that his Father Press was a very successful coach @ NC State nor that he was an excellent player in his own right.

But how does this "team oriented" coach allow his son to be such a "one-man" team? Watching Pete @ LSU was pure joy. Can you imagine a player today launching 40 foot set shots? Well, Pete did and made his share also. His passing ability was second to none.

Unfortunately my frame of reference ended with his college career. Playing in the pros for weak teams meant he was never televised nationally so I did not follow his initial tough beginning followed by his eventual rise. Kriegel fills in all the holes.

In summary, this is an exceptional biography that would interest anyone interested in sports in the 60s including the evolution of racial participation, basketball in general, the NBA, or just a human interest story of someone who led a unique life, turned it around to only then die tragically early. The ultimate biography which I strongly recommend.
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on August 21, 2008
Along with countless other boys from the 1970s, I wore floppy hair and droopy socks as a nod to Pistol Pete Maravich. But even with my socks pulled down, Maravich was never my favorite basketball player. What he represented was coolness. Maravich was an unrepentant showboat and gunner whose teams generally lost. But he had a trump card to cover these sins that America accepted, Pistol Pete was never boring. Not once.

Washington Post movie critic Stephen Hunter has argued that Quentin Tarentino in his movies defines sin as boredom. Murder is acceptable as long as you are not boring. Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, which came out when Maravich was at the height of his fame, manipulated the audience to embrace greed and corruption. William Holden and his despicable crew became the ones the audience rooted for because they were fun. Maravich wasn't evil on the court in the same manner, but he opened the way for new definitions that were contra Herm Edwards, "YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!" Maravich's desire was to be the show, and in what would be both his exaltation and damnation, he knew it. Like the culture around him, he wanted every eye on him, he needed every eye on him, and yet he couldn't handle every eye on him.

Mark Kriegel's great book, PISTOL, chronicles how Maravich was crashing off the floor while amazing people on it. Kriegel's genius, however, is weaving in the story of Pete's father and college basketball coach, Press. The story of the son can only be understood in relationship to the story of the father. As Kriegel puts it, "The father worshipped basketball; the son worshipped the father."

Petar "Press" Maravich was the only child of five that survived past six months born to Sara and Vajo Maravich. They were Serbians who lived in Aliquippa near Pittsburgh when steel mills and soot so dominated the area that it was depicted as "hell with the lid taken off." H.L. Mencken bluntly described Pittsburgh's surrounding cities as "unbroken and agonizing ugliness," which created the "most loathsome towns and villages ever seen by mortal eye."

The greater Pittsburgh area, however, was not only known for its steel mills; it also had the highest percentage of Presbyterians per capita in the world. Ernest Anderton, an insurance agent who lived in nearby Beaver Falls, was also a lay worker for the Presbytery of Beaver County who converted a deserted Lutheran church in Aliquippa into the Logstown Mission. Anderton had a standing deal: go to Sunday school and you could play on the Missions' basketball court. Teenager Press Maravich eagerly put forth what was needed in this exchange. He read his Bible, sang Psalms and attended Sunday School, but the ultimate prize Anderton sought, a confession of faith, was not recorded. There was also no push to join the Presbyterian Church. Press and his friends who played on the Mission's basketball team, The Daniel Boys, never left the Serbian Orthodox Church. Kriegel puts the impact of the Mission on Press simply, "A Savior he had found. But it wasn't Jesus Christ."

That basketball became Press's religion through the evangelistic efforts of a Presbyterian was somewhat ironic considering that basketball inventor James Naismith graduated from Montreal's Presbyterian Theological Seminary. (Who knew Naismith had Presbyterian roots? Who knew Montreal had a Presbyterian seminary?) The gospel of basketball has spread in the late 1920s to Aliquippa through Geneva College and its star player, Nate Lippe. Turned down by the Pitt Medical School because he was Jewish, Lippe settled for coaching the Aliquippa high school team, and his star player in the mid-30s was Press Maravich.

It appeared that Maravich would play in college for Geneva or Duke (almost assuredly the last recruit the two schools battled over) but eventually he attended Davis and Elkins in West Virginia. After college, he played professionally before and after WWII, but his life changed in 1946 when he married a young Serbian widow with a son. Within a year, Peter Press Maravich was born.

By the early 50s, Press was back in Aliquippa coaching. Young Pete always wanted to be around his father, but his father was always around basketball. Consequently, Pete became all basketball. When the Aliquippa team would leave in the afternoon for away games, the father would turn the lights on the home court and give the son the one word instruction, "play." When the team returned usually around mid-night, they would be greeted by the son still shooting.

The son's ball handling skills amazed everyone. He was a prodigy and the father knew it. At the same time that he was spreading the gospel of Pete to close friends like UCLA coach John Wooden, Press also began climbing the coaching ladder. Clemson called, and then NC State which Press led to an improbable ACC championship in 1965. Meanwhile, Pete was creating his own legend dazzling everyone with his scoring feats and playmaking ability. The problem was that Press would only allow Pete to play for him in college, but Pete didn't have the board exam scores to enter NC State.

One school that didn't see that fact as problematic was LSU. Father and son were taken as a package in 1966 and the cult of Pistol Pete was born. Playing with teammates that were limited in talent, the Pistol started firing as soon as he walked on the court. He led the nation in scoring three consecutive years and walked away from LSU as the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history. John McPhee's 1965 A SENSE OF WHERE YOU ARE extolling Bill Bradley as the model student-athlete had been replaced by Curry Kirkpatrick's 1968 Sport Illustrated cover story on Maravich, "The Coed Boppers' Top Cat." Kirkpatrick wrote, "Everybody in the world, the world that really counts, will know Pistol Pete Maravich. He will make a million dollars playing the game of basketball." The difference to basketball purists, however, was that Bradley made everyone around him better and lifted his Princeton squad to the Final Four. Maravich teammates watched Pete shoot as LSU barely won fifty percent of its games during his tenure.

The Pistol got his million dollars from the Atlanta Hawks, but the superstar who lit up the college game stopped smiling. Turnover prone and often injured, Maravich struggled mightily with both the pro game and his teammates. The worst blow, however, was personal. His mother, who was perpetually drunk the last decade of her life, committed suicide during this time.

After four disappointing and disillusioned years in Atlanta, Pete was traded to the New Orleans Jazz where he blossomed into an NBA superstar. Natives wouldn't say, "Are you going to see the Jazz?" Rather, they would say "Are you going to see Pete?" But, despite otherworldly adoration, Pete never smiled. Finally making his signature between the legs pass late in a game the Jazz was winning, he blew out his knee. He would never be the same and within two years he retired from the game.

The year that followed he rarely left his home, became obsessive about pills and drugs, and played with his two infant sons. He also considered suicide. Then, in the midst of his despair, he accepted Christ. Pete believed Christ died for his sins and had set him free from guilt and shame. He joined a Baptist Church and started holding a summer basketball camp at Clearwater Christian College. He also started to smile for the first time in years.

His wife, Jackie, at first was skeptical about Pete's conversion to Christianity. He had collected many "isms" -vegetarianism, Hinduism, and extraterrestrialism. What she found was that her husband was a changed man, that this was not a fad. She commented, "He was a different person. I saw how happy he was, how he was at peace with everything."

One person that Pete had to tell was his father Press. After Helen Maravich's death, Press had stopped coaching and devoted himself to caring for Diana, the daughter that his stepson Ronnie had abandoned. The confession that Press did not make at the Logstown Mission occurred when he joined the First Baptist Church and was baptized.

Two years later Press learned that he had inoperative cancer. Father and son once more were inseparable, only this time the bond was Christ. They would read the Bible and pray together. Pete would carry his father up and down the stairs and stay with him in his bedroom until he fell asleep. Press died with Pete at his side.

By this time, Pete was garnering attention again, but now it was for his devotion to Christ. Just as his playing basketball had an event, now his testimony was an event. He joined Billy Graham in his evangelistic campaigns. He appeared on television. On the day that he was going to conduct an interview with Focus on the Family's James Dobson, Pete accepted an invitation from Dobson to join in a morning basketball game, something that he hadn't done in years. Talking to Dobson during a break when the other players were getting a drink, Pete collapsed on the court. Dobson and former UCLA player Ralph Drollinger were able to revive him.

The autopsy determined that Pete was born without a complete artery system, a condition that almost universally causes sudden death in young athletes. Of Pete's legacy, Kriegel writes, "Whatever doubts still lingered about Pete's standing in the game or even his place in popular culture ended with his death. His image would be eternally consigned--along with the likes of James Dean, Elvis, and at least a couple of Kennedys--to a celebrity purgatory reserved for the young dead." It could be argued, however, that the more powerful legacy was the joy and peace that marked Pete Maravich as a Christian living in obscurity and quietly serving others.
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on April 4, 2007
I was drawn to the book by an ad in the New Yorker, and I ordered it on sight. I do like biographies; however, I don't gravitate to sports bios that often, not since I grew up. I do remember Pistol Pete, however, and I recalled the floppy socks, the great ball handling, and playing for LSU, at first, and later the Hawks and the Jazz.

What is compelling about this book is that the author goes to great lengths to be forthright, true, and quantified. You never, for a moment, think that anything is not true. He doesn't pander to your emotions, nor does he go for extremism. Pete's life was troubled at best,and the author tells us this, shows us this, and let's us determine how both wonderful and tragic Pete's life was.

Tragic, for Pete's life is filled with hubris that he will not and cannot escape. This is no novel, and any basketball fan knows how this story ends, but one cannot help but get caught up in the Maravichs' lives, particularly Pete, his rowdy trouble making brother, his alcoholic mother, and his success in basketball intensity father. What also comes through is what a fledgling sport NBA basketball was before Magic, Byrd and Jordan. The idea that Pete was the first million dollar pro basketball player, the idea that he was the founding cement for the expansion team of the Atlanta Hawks, and the idea that he was a transitional white player, in the sense of time not of play, before it become a game dominated by African Americans are all key to Kriegel thesis.

The reader is left sad and nostalgic for another time. If you recall basketball before it had its own networks, and you recall college basketball's crowning event as the NIT, and not the NCAA, tournament then you'll love this book.

I do believe Kriegel's aufience is limited to those of us that recall Maravich busting open a press, shooting 70% percent of his shots beyond the three point line, before there was a three point line, and when basketball was still a game of strategy, finese, speed, and handling the ball. It is now a game of power, strength, inside game, and stamina. One reads with he question, "Would Pete have been as good today if he played?" After reading the book, the reader is convinced that Pete was destined to be the best on the court whenever and wherever he played.

Finally, Kriegel wrote a biographer on Joe Namath, and I plan toread that it the next month.
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VINE VOICEon March 10, 2007
Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich is really a book about the Maravich family. The first quarter of the book is about Pete's father, Press. And, Press clearly dominates the first third of the book. Pete's sons are the subjects of the last 20 pages. In between, author Mark Kriegel gives readers a fascinating look at perhaps the greatest college basketball player ever. It is a sad and painful story.

I was a Pete Maravich fan when he was in college, but he fell off my radar screen once he began playing in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks. I couldn't have explained why. But, after reading this book, I understand why. Injuries, playing for a poor team in the South that lacked television exposure, and then being shipped to an expansion team (New Orleans Jazz) took a lot of fire power away from The Pistol.

The NBA in the 70's and 80's was far different than what it is today. Maravich was the original Showtime, but his teammates and the NBA establishment were jealous of him. Too bad, he couldn't have played in today's NBA. Sadly, he never won a championship.

This is an excellent biography that goes beyond newspaper clippings to explain why a troubled star was the way he was.
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on March 24, 2007
Mark Kriegel's newest work, Pistol, is a great book for anyone who's interested in either college or professional basketball, as it gives an in depth look into one of the game's greatest players, Pete Maravich.

I found the book to be a great read, beginning with the life of Pete's father, Press, and ending with changed man that Pete had become in his last days, a born again Christian. The book is very detailed, full of quotes from coaches and players and lost articles on the two men.

Overall, I thought it was one of the best sports biographies I've ever read, perhaps only behind Leigh Montville's biography on Ted Williams.
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