After reading this article on SI.com about how LeBron James lost 2 consecutive games of H-O-R-S-E to a warehouse worker in California, I started thinking about the ultimate H-O-R-S-E player, Pistol Pete Maravich. Pete has always been one of my favorite players. I have been reading the book Pistol and it is an excellent read. It goes back to the very beginnings of the game and how it was shaped into what we watch today, and gives insight into what shaped Pistol Pete Maravich, arguably one of the best players in the game. Pete was so far ahead of his time that he was considered more of a novelty than a serious basketball player.
I was thrilled when he signed with the Celtics after being waived by Utah in 1980. With the Celtics that year, he was in unfamiliar territory as he played as a role player and not the headliner for the first time in his career. But, he averaged 11.5 points in 26 games for the Celtics and was still very capable of scoring in bunches when needed. In one game he scored the final 10 points to help the Celtics come from behind to beat the Washington Bullets. After that season, he gave in to the knee problems that had been plaguing him in his final few years and retired. Over the years, I have often thought of how ironic it was that the year after he retired from the Celtics, they won the title. Had he hung on one more season, he would have had that elusive ring he chased his entire career and it would have given his career the validity it deserved.
Even though he had been out of the game for years, his death in 1988 hit me really hard. He was one of my heroes and I felt the world lost something special that had never really been appreciated. He was a showman and he did things on a basketball court people had never seen before and have never seen since but he never got the recognition he deserved in my opinion. But there can be no doubt that Pete was the king of the trick shot. Here is a video of Pete playing H-O-R-S-E and I don't think anyone ever beat him at it. LeBron could take some lessons from Pete before venturing to play H-O-R-S-E again. Enjoy a master at work!