A Coveted Asset
"Maybe I'm a little kookie, but I'm always going to be out to entertain," said Maravich. "There's nothing that says you can't win and be entertaining."
It was that approach to the game that had everyone from executives to current players recognizing his potential to bring fans to the arenas.
"Let me say right now that Pete Maravich can make our whole league," commented Gardner to The Dispatch in Lexington, NC. "He is more than a basketball player. This man is personality...he could be the next Arnold Palmer or Joe Namath."
Bill Bridges, the Atlanta Hawks team captain, was just as bold with his statements to the Beaver County Times.
"Let's face it," said Bridges, "a white player of his ability is what Atlanta and the NBA need. He may be the greatest gate attraction to come into the league."
It's Nice to Have Options
While the ABA offered a wide-open, high-scoring style of play that may have suited Maravich's game better, the level of competition in the NBA was almost universally accepted as being higher. The desire to match up against the world's best was the likely motivating factor that made Pete sign his deal with the Hawks. That and Tom Cousins recruitment alongside the elder Maravich's old friend Bob Kent.
As an individual Pete finished second in the NBA in scoring average (27.7 ppg) in 1974, was twice named to the All-Star team and was named to the All-NBA second team in 1973.
Looking at the bigger picture, Pete did wonders for the Atlanta franchise. As noted before, the team had not done well at the box office prior to Pete's arrival in 1970. They had averaged 188,484 fans the first two seasons in Atlanta with a winning record in each campaign. Then, despite a losing season, the attendance rose to 245,910 for the 1970-71 season, and shot over 304,000 when the new arena (The Omni) opened in 1972. After Maravich was traded following the 1974 season the attendance fell back to 205,341.
Pete Maravich's Career