John Rhodes

author John Rhodes“A number of years ago when I first read Mark Kriegel’s Pistol: The Life Story of Pete Maravich I did so knowing that I was one of the lucky ones. Having been in the basketball business for a number of years I’ve had the opportunity to ask some of the greats who they considered the best they ever saw.  I’ve heard Michael, LeBron, Byrd, Magic, West, Oscar, all the usual suspects, but most often the name that came up was, usually after a thoughtful pause, “Well, the most exciting and talented I ever saw was Pistol Pete Maravich!”

Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich book cover

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And then they’d ask if I ever saw him play. “Yes, I not only saw him play I played with him and against him!” This never fails to kick-start the conversation.  “No, I didn’t play with him in Raleigh at Broughton High School or with or against him at LSU. But I grew up in Raleigh and we played pickup games at the park at Hayes Barton Swimming Pool. I was three years older, so the games that I played in with Pete—which are, even now, hard to forget—were on those Raleigh playgrounds.

Here was this skinny white kid who grew to be 6’5, wearing these floppy socks, doing things with a basketball that we’d never seen before. So when I read Pistol, the biography, I was really prepared to be, in a sense, disappointed. I thought, hell I know the story, knew his dad, Press, was there in Raleigh when he took Pete to LSU, delivering a prize that would get Press the head coach’s job there.

I knew how Pete lived, how he played (I watched him all through high school at Broughton) and I knew how, sadly, he died. What I wasn’t prepared for was the powerful story that Mark Kriegel tells in this biography—it’s a story of a kid who lives his father’s dream, and I would learn later in reviews that confirmed my rather biased opinion that this is a story, to quote one review, that “captures the saga of an American family: its rise, its apparent ruin, and finally, its redemption.”

Pete wasn’t just the Elvis Presley of basketball, a tremendous shooter and ball handler; this was a very complex individual, one that novels, rather than non-fictions, are made of. So I knew Pete, or at least I thought I did . . . until I read Pistol. You don’t have to be a basketball fan to enjoy this powerful biography.” — John Rhodes is the Mayor of Myrtle Beach, S.C., and the Executive Director of the Beach Ball Classic, the nation’s premier high school basketball tournament. For more on Mayor Rhodes’ Beach Ball Classic click here: