A date has not yet been set for the ceremony, but it has been decided that the number of NBA legend “Pistol” Pete Maravich will be retired by the Atlanta Hawks. All I can say is that it’s about damn time. While his personal life was somewhat of a rollercoaster, on the court he was a magician.
Atlanta selected Maravich with the third pick in the 1970 draft and was gone by the 1974-75 season, but in his four seasons with the Hawks, he averaged 24.3 points, 5.6 assists, was selected to two All-Star teams, and brought the team to three straight playoff appearances. Maravich’s insane natural ability to score was put on display a number of occasions, including nine times where he scored 40 or more and two times where he exploded for 50 points.
Why has it taken this long to see Pistol’s jersey in the rafters? Maravich has been in the Hall of Fame for 30 years, yet the Hawks are just now getting around to retiring his number. Maybe it’s because he never won a title? Dominique Wilkins and Lou Hudson both had their jerseys retired and neither of them ever won a title. Then it must be because he wasn’t with the team very long, right? Then how do you explain Dikembe Mutombo getting his jersey retired after only having played with the Hawks for a half-season longer than Pistol? Dikembe was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015 and had his jersey retired with the Hawks two months later.
I love that Pete is finally getting his jersey retired, but the Hawks should get think about the way they treat their legends. Do us all a favor and the next time a game-changing Hall of Famer comes through, don’t wait thirty years to retire his jersey.
Originally posted January 2017.