Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Great One Vs Pistol Pete

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I don't make many guarantees but there is one that I feel comfortable making. When comparing New Orleans and Indianapolis' Sports History, there won't be a media outlet that will provide you with what I'm going to do in this posting.

Did you know that Hall of Famers "Pistol" Pete Maravich and Wayne Gretzky have unique ties to these towns?

In 1978, the World Hockey Association had a young 17-year old player named Gretzky that started his professional career as a member of the Indianapolis Racers, who played at the now demolished Market Square Arena. Gretzky played eight games for the Racers who folded on December 15, 1978. He scored his first goal in his fifth game against Dave Dryden of the Edmonton Oilers and then his second four seconds later.

In eight games for the Racers, Gretzky had three goals and three assists for six points.

This would be the beginning of a career that would see him play in 1,487 NHL Regular Season Games, score 894 goals, amass 1,963 assists for 2,857 points. In the playoffs, Gretzky played in 208 games, added 122 goals, 260 assists for 362 points.

Upon his retirement on April 18, 1999 he held 40 regular season records, 15 playoff records, six All-Star marks and is the only NHL player to total 200 points in a season which he accomplished that feat four times. His No.99 has been retired by all teams in the NHL.

Gretzky, now 49, won four Stanley Cup Championships for the Edmonton Oilers in 1984, 85, 87, and 88.

The waiting period to be inducted into the Hall of Fame was waived thus he was enshrined in 1999.

How important was Pete "Pistol" Maravich to the Sports Fans of Louisiana?

When you go to the New Orleans Superdome, his No.7 was retired in 1988. Saints fans are reminded of that every time they watch a game knowing that Maravich played for the New Orleans Jazz from 1974-79. During his final year with the Jazz, he played in the NBA All-Star Game held at the Pontiac Silverdome.

The former LSU legend, has also had his No.7 retired by the New Orleans Hornets and the Utah Jazz.

Despite playing in only 10 seasons, Maravich was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987. He's a member of the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team (1996), a five time All-Star, scored 15,948 points (24.2 ppg) in 658 games.

He only made the playoffs four times, three with the Atlanta Hawks and once with the Boston Celtics, as he finished his career as a teammate of fellow Hall of Famer Larry Bird in 1979-80. He played 26 games averaging 11.5 points wearing the green and white and retired at the age of 32.

On January 5, 1988, Maravich died at the age of 40 due to a heart attack while playing in a pick-up basketball game in a gym at The First of the Nazarene in Pasadena, CA.

When you compare these two players careers, even though Gretzky's lasted much longer than Maravich's, there names will not only be remembered by National Sports Fans but more so in History of the States of Indiana & Louisiana.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.



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