Wednesday night at 7 p.m. basketball fans in New Orleans will get to watch one of the great scoring performances in NBA history, Pete Maravich’s 68-point game against the New York Knicks.
The game, a 124-107 victory for the New Orleans Jazz, will be broadcast on Fox Sports New Orleans. If you miss the initial showing, or just want to watch Pistol Pete do his thing again, it will be re-aired at 10 p.m.
Maravich’s 68-point game on Feb. 25, 1977 in the Superdome was the highest outing by a guard in NBA history at the time – only big men Wilt Chamberlain (100) and Elgin Baylor (71) had scored more – and Maravich did it without the benefit of a 3-point line.
“I honestly did not know I had that many,” Maravich said after the game. “ You never really know, you never think about how many points you have.”
“If there were a 3-point line over 75 easy,” said Kriegel, a ring-side boxing analyst for ESPN. “Could Pete have gone for 81 or 82? I like to think so.”
Another factor that kept the 68 points from being even more, Maravich fouled out with one minute and 18 seconds to play.
“They fouled him out of the game on two offensive fouls against Tom McMillen,” Kriegel said. “Michael Jordan could not relate to that.”
In The Times-Picayune’s postgame recap, Maravich said that the fouls were judgment calls by the referees, especially the final one.
“Another ref and it could have been a 3-point play,” Maravich said of the charging call that sent him to the bench.
No matter, it was an historic night in NBA and New Orleans basketball history and we all can re-live it Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports. It’s been 50 years since the Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer was forced to retire in 1980 because of knee problems, ending his spectacular NBA career at just 10 seasons. Maravich would die eight years later of a heart ailment while playing a pickup basketball game in California. He was 40 years old.
Fifty years of not seeing the ultimate basketball showman, a 6-foot-5 guard with an accurate jump shot, otherworldly passing and ultimate ball control. “His size and skill announced the modern ballplayer,” Kriegel said.
Wednesday night is a chance for New Orleans basketball fans to re-live one of the great performances in NBA history. “It’s more than just the magic,” Kriegel said of watching Maravich play. “It’s the tempo, the look on his face, those moments of ecstasy. You can feel he’s touching the crowd.”
For one night, New Orleans can experience the Maravich magic again.