Iowa’s Caitlin Clark is poised to break Pistol Pete Maravich’s college basketball career scoring record, perhaps as soon as this week.

The coming days present an opportunity not only to appreciate her historic career, but also a chance to recall – or perhaps grasp for the first time – just how remarkable Maravich was.

Clark scored 24 points Sunday, increasing her career total to 3,617. She’s now 50 away from matching Maravich’s magic number of 3,667 points scored at LSU from 1968-70. Her career high is 49 — vs. Belmont.

Clark has 2 regular-season games remaining: at Minnesota on Wednesday, and then likely her final home game on Senior Day on Sunday against Ohio State. Given that she averages 32 points per game, it’s likely she will surpass Maravich on Senior Day.

If Clark falls short this week, she still has the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament in which to pass Maravich and even put a modest distance between herself and him.

Theoretically she could add substantially to her total by choosing to return to Iowa for a 5th season in 2024-25, but it seems far more logical that she would enter the WNBA Draft after this season.

Nonetheless, among Clark’s many accomplishments is bringing back to the forefront, the career of one of the most distinctive basketball players in history.

Let’s examine 10 things that made Pete Maravich one of the game’s greatest players:

1. The points, of course

Let’s start with the numbers because they’re what this story is all about.

Maravich’s unmatched (to this point) scoring total only tells a small part of the story. Freshman still weren’t eligible to play varsity sports (that rule changed in 1972-73), and there was no 3-point line, which is where a significant number of the Pistol’s field goals came from.

It has been estimated that Maravich, whose record career 44.2 point per game average (in a mere 83 games) has never been approached, would have averaged more like 57 points per game with the presence of a 3-point line.

Using that estimate, throwing in a 4th season and adjusting for expanded schedules, it’s reasonable to think Maravich, playing 4 seasons in the 21st Century, would have approached 8,000 career points.

2. Scoring wasn’t his best skill

As hard to grasp as Maravich’s scoring numbers – both real and speculative – are, what’s even more remarkable is that his skill as a dribbler and a passer was what separated him from his contemporaries even more than his scoring prowess did.

Maravich wasn’t just the most prolific scorer in the history of college basketball, he also was the most dynamic and creative offensive player overall.

3. He made LSU basketball interesting

Football has always been king at LSU. Baseball has become the No. 2 sport thanks to 7 College World Series championships over the past few decades.

But prior to Maravich’s arrival in the late 1960s, basketball was mostly irrelevant in Baton Rouge. The Tigers had a nice run in the early 1950s, thanks to Bob Pettit, reaching the Final Four in ’53.

But the basketball team generally was ignored until Maravich came along. In fact, during the Pistol’s freshman season in 1966-67, students would line up to watch Maravich and his fellow freshmen, then leave before the varsity game. LSU’s varsity won 3 games that season, which was father Press Maravich’s debut season as head coach.

4. He elevated the team around him

Maravich didn’t just attract crowds because of his flamboyant play, he also significantly elevated the Tigers’ level of play.

In the Pistol’s senior season, LSU finished 20-8 and reached the NIT semifinals in Madison Square Garden, back when the NCAA Tournament included just 25 teams and playing in the NIT was a pretty big deal.

5. He laid the foundation for the Tigers’ best era

The Pistol was coached by his father, Press, who coached for 2 more seasons after his son moved on to the NBA.

Press Maravich had been the head coach at Clemson and then NC State in Raleigh, where Pistol Pete dominated high school basketball. He led the Wolfpack to the 1965 ACC Tournament title and automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Press’ LSU teams went 76-86.

Coach Maravich was succeeded by unknown Washington State assistant Dale Brown, who took the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament 12 times, including trips to the Final Four in 1981 and 1986.

6. He boosted basketball in the SEC

The SEC – and college basketball to some degree – was dominated by Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky’s teams for decades.

But the SEC, including Rupp and the Wildcats, had never seen anything like Maravich. LSU games suddenly became featured attractions in other SEC towns because of the Pistol’s showmanship.

7. The scoring record’s endurance

Clark is the 2nd player to threaten Maravich’s scoring record in the last year. Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy finished with 3,664 points — 3 points short of the Pistol’s record total. Davis played 144 games in 5 seasons. Clark has played in 128 games thus far.

8. The House that Maravich built

Pistol and his teammates played their home games in something called the John M. Parker Agricultural Center – better known as “The Cow Palace.”

But Maravich’s lasting impact included the construction of the LSU Assembly Center, which opened in 1972 and was renamed the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC) in 1988 after the Pistol’s death from a heart ailment.

9. He was an NBA great as well

This story is about the college basketball scoring record, but it’s worth noting that Maravich was an NBA legend as well. He was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1970 draft. Maravich’s career with the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans and Utah Jazz as well as the Boston Celtics helped land him in the Naismith Hall of Fame and he is on multiple lists of the greatest NBA players of all time. He averaged 24.2 points over the course of an 11-year career, was a 5-time All-Star and scored a career-high 68 points — still without use of a 3-point line — for the New Orleans Jazz in a 1977 game against the Knicks. That remains the Jazz’s single-game record.

10. He would have been a marketing dream

And finally, in putting Maravich in a 2024 context, the marketing possibilities would have been endless. His signature floppy socks could have attracted NIL opportunities and his distinctive hair style would have looked great on a bobblehead.

In the Pistol’s time, marketing opportunities were pretty rare.

But his basketball performance alone was great enough to keep him legendary more than a half-century after he left LSU.

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