It’s been a little over 43 years since Pete Maravich dropped a career-high 68 points on the New York Knicks.
This, of course, happened several years before the advent of the 3-point line in the NBA.
Pistol Pete ignited the New Orleans Jazz in a 124-107 victory over the Knickerbockers on Feb. 25, 1977.
This was the opening sentence in The New York Times’ game report: “Fouls stopped Pete Maravich before the Knicks could tonight and the Jazz guard scored 68 points as New Orleans routed the New Yorkers, 124-107.”
Maravich fouled out with 1:18 left in the game. He was whistled for two offensive fouls in the fourth quarter.
After the game, Maravich, who passed away on Jan. 5, 1988, at age 40 due to a heart defect, said, “I could have scored more. I missed a lot of easy shots early in the game.”
In a recent NBA.com feature, Jazz teammate Paul Griffin recalled Pete Maravich’s splendid performance. Pistol Pete sank 26 of 43 shots from the floor and 16 of 19 free-throw attempts. In the Friday evening contest at Louisiana Superdome, a crowd of 11, 0333 witnessed Pistol Pete’s super skills. Referees Don Murphy and Dick Bavetta officiated the game.
“When he got on a roll like that, we were happy to get him the ball,” Griffin stated.
Pete Maravich carries club
Pistol Pete lit up New York for 31 first-half points en route to a then-record point total for an NBA guard. The Knicks trailed 65-43 entering the third quarter.
Speaking to NBA.com, forward Aaron James, who also played for the Jazz that season, said: “We were just watching Pete. He could score in just about any way possible. He could shoot right-handed, left-handed, off the wrong foot. He could shoot hooks.”
Indeed, Pete Maravich also had a flair for the dramatic. He was, after all, a natural showman.
“It was pretty fun to watch,” Griffin told NBA.com. “He had so much scoring prowess that it was not unheard of for him to do something like that, but it was still quite a feat, especially without a three-point stripe. He won the scoring championship that year and averaged (31.1) points a game, so we were used to it. But that night, he was just feeling it.”
Reactions to Pistol Pete’s performance
“It was a beautiful thing to watch for the fans here and you have to admire that kind of effort,” Knicks coach Red Holzman said afterward, according to The New York Times. “We didn’t play well, but he was phenomenal.”
Knicks forward Bob McAdoo summed it up this way: “That man beat us by himself.”