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Julius Erving Recalls Averaging 135 Points with Pistol Pete Maravich in Two Games

Julius Erving Recalls Averaging 135 Points with Pistol Pete Maravich in Two Games

Exploring Dr. J's tumultuous early NBA journey.

by Nouman Rasool
Julius Erving Recalls Averaging 135 Points with Pistol Pete Maravich in Two Games
© Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In an era where the NBA was evolving into a spectacle of athleticism and style, two luminaries, Julius Erving and Pistol Pete Maravich, briefly converged, creating a basketball symphony that still resonates today. Their fleeting collaboration in the early 1970s, though short-lived, left an indelible mark on the game and its fans.

During a recent appearance on The Big Podcast with Shaquille O'Neal, Julius "Dr. J" Erving reminisced about his brief stint with the Atlanta Hawks, where he teamed up with Maravich. "In those two games, we averaged 135 points," Erving shared, recalling the synergy and unorthodox approach that defined their play.

"Pistol Pete was an incredible player, and Atlanta was the place to be for an African American athlete in that era," he added, reflecting on the socio-cultural significance of the city in the 1970s.

Erving's Atlanta Legal Battle

Erving's journey to Atlanta was fraught with legal complexities.

Drafted in 1972, Erving found himself entangled in a rights dispute among the Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, and Virginia Squires, spanning both the NBA and ABA. Despite the legal challenges, Erving's desire to play in Atlanta led him to join the Hawks, even participating in their training camp and playing in two exhibition games alongside Maravich and Lou Hudson.

However, the dream was short-lived. The Hawks faced substantial fines for playing Erving, who technically belonged to Milwaukee, forcing him to eventually join the Squires in the ABA. This premature end to his time in Atlanta meant the basketball world missed out on what could have been a legendary partnership.

In those brief appearances, Erving and Maravich displayed a potent combination. Erving's aerial prowess complemented Maravich's creative playmaking, forming a duo that was remarkably efficient for its time—especially notable given the absence of a three-point line in that era.

Erving has consistently held Maravich in high regard, once describing him in his autobiography as "the most skilled basketball player I've ever seen." He recounted fierce one-on-one battles with Maravich, which often drew an audience of their teammates.

Their mutual respect and competitive spirit exemplified the best of basketball's golden age. Pistol Pete Maravich, often overlooked in modern discussions of basketball greats, was a player ahead of his time, as Erving witnessed firsthand.

Maravich's unique blend of dribbling finesse, shooting accuracy, and flashy playstyle made him an iconic figure in the NBA. Though their time together was brief, the legacy of Erving and Maravich's partnership lingers—a tantalizing glimpse of what might have been, a testament to the transformative power of two of basketball's most extraordinary talents.