In the spring of 1970 the Atlanta Hawks pulled off an improbable move by signing the most prolific scorer in the history of college basketball to a lucrative contract. "Pistol" Pete Maravich made the final decision, choosing to join the NBA's Hawks over the ABA's Carolina Cougars, but the subplot is much more complex.
To fully understand, one must first become familiar with the key players in this story:
As the 1970 season came to a close the San Francisco Warriors lost 18 of their final 22 games. A first round pick that was anticipated to be sixth or seventh overall was suddenly third, and the possibility of Maravich being available became fairly realistic.
Still, whoever drafted Maravich knew that they would immediately enter into a bidding war with their ABA counterpart, driving the price up higher than any amateur player had ever demanded. Bob Kent, the most unlikely player in this story, was involved in both sides of the negotiations.
It was in Greensboro that Kent became friends with the Cougars' General Manager, Don DeJardin, and he was glad to help when he was asked to contact Press about Pete on the Carolina team's behalf.
Tom Cousins was the owner of the Hawks and he was responsible for bringing the team to Atlanta in 1968. Cousins and his family made their fortune in the real estate business and part of the bigger picture of bringing an NBA franchise to Atlanta was the construction of a new downtown arena. He recruited Kent to be a consultant during the planning process and then to stay on to manage the arena once it was built.
With the relocation and the ambitious goals of his new employer, Kent's loyalties quickly shifted from the Carolina's to the Peach State.
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