Once again Wooden
chalked it up to the enigma of Press. "If any of my players made a
behind-the-back pass," says Wooden, "he'd be sitting on the bench. Same
thing with the dunk. I didn't permit any of that." (In fact, the NCAA voted
to outlaw the dunk in 1967, a move considered a sanction against UCLA's Lew
Alcindor. But in a larger sense it was a sanction against a still-emerging
black style of basketball.)
The Pistol was
featured in Time and Newsweek. Around the same time there was a photo spread in
Life and a cover story in SI that served as a chorus of auld lang syne for Bill
Bradley and all he represented: The Prince is dead; long live the Pistol.
Meanwhile, LSU basketball remained a one-man show. By the end of Pete's junior
season--Saturday, March 8, 1969--the Tigers needed a win just to break even on
They were in
Athens, Ga., down 59--44 with 10 minutes to play. Then, without warning, a mere
game became something "seldom matched in SEC basketball," according to
an account in the Baton Rouge State-Times. Pete scored 13 straight points and
24 of his team's last 29, most of them on outrageously long jumpers. The game
went into overtime. "The crowd starts cheering," says Les Robinson, who
was watching from a seat near the LSU bench. "They don't care who wins.
They came to see a show."
As the extra
period ended, Georgia had a two-point lead and was trying to run out the clock.
"Then I heard something I never heard before or since," says Robinson.
"The crowd started booing the home team. The players didn't understand. It
Georgia took an
ill-advised shot with 12 seconds remaining. Six ticks later, Maravich tied the
overtime proved less competitive but even more memorable, with Pete scoring 11
of LSU's 12 points as the Tigers took an insurmountable lead. "Our place
sat, like, 11,000, but there must have been 13,000 in there," says
White, who had
already fouled out trying to guard Pete. "The fans were going nuts. You
could not hear anything." Pete might as well have been conducting a
dribbling clinic. "Our guys are running around after him, falling down on
the floor," White continues. "He's going into his whole Marques Haynes
Globetrotters act, and we can't even catch the sumbitch to foul him."
fire in their eyes," Pete would remember. "I thought they were going to
kill me. I started dribbling to midcourt, then to my bench." There were
just seconds left. Pete never even broke stride as he threw up a shot for his
57th and 58th points on the night. "A 30-foot hook shot over his head,"
as it was described in one newspaper account. "The ball hit the bottom of
the net without touching the rim of the basket."
cheerleaders started dancing," says White, "then the fans came pouring
out of the stands and carried him off the floor."
going after him like Elvis Presley," Robinson remembers. "They just
wanted to touch him." Of course, Les had seen it before, the outrageously
nonchalant parabola of his final shot: the going-down shot. Robinson caught up
with Pete in the dressing room after the game. Middle of winter, and the kid
came out in sunglasses.