Celtics vs. Jazz: Remembering Pete Maravich, the Lone HOFer Who Played for Both Teams

Boston Celtics

Getty The Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz square off for the first time this season on Friday, January 5, at TD Garden.

The Boston Celtics host the Utah Jazz in their first meeting of the season when they square off at TD Garden on Friday, January 5. While the Jazz aren’t nearly the storied NBA franchise the Celtics are, there are 34 players who played for both teams.

Only one of the 34, Pete Maravich, is in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Let’s take a closer look at the man simply known as “Pistol Pete,” who died 36 years ago on January 5, 1988, playing the game he loved.

Pete Maravich Ended His NBA Career With the Boston Celtics

Pete Maravich played the final season of his 10-year NBA career with the Celtics. He joined a rookie named Larry Bird midway through the 1979-80 season after the Jazz placed him on waivers due to his knee problems. He signed with the Celtics and played 26 regular-season games and the postseason.

Led by Bird, the Celtics went from a 29-win team to one that won a league-high 61 games. They reached the Eastern Conference Finals, but fell to the Philadelphia 76ers in five games.

Maravich, a five-time NBA All-Star, was the third pick in the 1970 NBA Draft, selected by the Atlanta Hawks. He spent his first four NBA seasons with the Hawks, including the last two as an All-Star.

The Hawks traded Pistol Pete to the expansion New Orleans Jazz prior to the 1974-75 season. In his third year with the Jazz, Maravich led the NBA in scoring at 31.1 points per game. He also led the league in minutes per game at 41.7. Maravich was an All-star in his final three seasons in New Orleans.

The Jazz packed up and moved to Utah ahead of the 1979-80 season. By that time, injuries caught up with Maravich, who only played 17 games with Utah before the team placed him on waivers.

With Boston, he averaged 11.5 points in 17 minutes. He showed flashes of the old Pistol Pete at times, including a game against the Indiana Pacers on March 18, 1980, Maravich played 42 minutes in a starting role and dominated. He made 12 of 18 shots from the floor and went 7-for-7 from the free-throw line for a game-high 31 points.

Maravich Remains the NCAA Men’s Division 1 All-Time Leading Scorer

Just how good was Maravich? His numbers did all the talking during his NCAA career at LSU.

Back in the late 1960s, freshmen weren’t allowed to play at the varsity level, so Maravich’s college numbers reflect on his three years of play. In those three seasons with the Tigers, Maravich racked up 3,667 points, a record that stands more than 50 years later.

As a sophomore, Maravich averaged 43.8 points and 7.5 rebounds, and that was just the beginning. He put up 44.2 points as a junior and then 44.5 as a senior.

Maravich did this all without the benefit of a 3-point line. There also wasn’t a shot clock then.

Maravich died January 5, 1988, during a game of pickup basketball. He was 40.

According to Marshall Terrill, co-author of “Pete Maravich: The Authorized Biography of Pistol Pete,” Maravich wished he had spent more time in Boston.

“Pete totally bought into the Celtic mystique, and Boston was the only team he dreamed about playing for when he was a kid,” Terrill once told Boston Sports Media Watch. “When I say he dreamed of being a Celtic, I mean literally. He focused on that goal from the age of 8 and visualized it for more than a dozen years.”

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