Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pete And Press

Holidays aren't the same when your parents have passed away. I was blessed with terrific relationships with my folks but not all are so blessed. In daily prayer requests from my students, petitions are penned asking for better communication with their folks. Some of my students in the past have had no living biological parents so that is an even heavier burden for a teen to bear. The following is about one of the most famous American athletes and his not quite so famous father. This is from 12-28-06.

It's the season to cash in the gift cards. Yesterday was Macy's and today was TARGET. I have $75 left on various Starbucks cards so that will take awhile. This morning, I headed to BORDERS to redeem a gift from a student. Several times I was approached by employees who offered their help but true to form, I rejected their overtures. I couldn't find the book I had my heart set on but just as I was about to leave, there it was in a new hardcover display: MARAVICH, a biography by Wayne Federman and Marshall Terrill. My gift card didn't cover the total cost but it was worth a few extra dollars. I know the basic story of Pete Maravich but I'm interested in the details. The leading scorer in college basketball history and chosen as one of the NBA'S 50 Greatest Players, the player nicknamed Pistol Pete should have had a happy life ....but he didn't. His teams did not win championships and his flashy style turned many off. He had a contentious relationship with his father/coach and his mother, after battling depression, committed suicide. He struggled with alcohol and his career was shortened by injury. I'm only one hundred pages into this well-written book but it has confirmed what I already knew. Pete Maravich was programmed by his father at birth to become a basketball star. In that sense, he was successful. The Pistol was well ahead of his time in terms of ball handling and flamboyant play. His signing at LSU sparked basketball mania in Louisiana, a state dominated by football. But there were always critics who accused him of shooting too much and his dad, Press, of favoritism. His teammates in the pros often disdained his unorthodox brand of offense and he at times feuded with his coaches. For all his glory, it just seems there was no fairy tale curtain call for this magnificently talented athlete. It needed a happier ending.

It's easy to be critical of parents, especially from the hindsight biographers possess. Press Maravich would seem to be an easy target. He saw basketball as the ticket to his son's better life, just as it allowed him to escape from the steel mills of Pennsylvania. Pete showed no interest in studies and scraped by with a minimum of effort, apparently with the blessing of his father. Juggling roles of player/coach/father/son is difficult in any case and with the Maraviches, volatile eruptions seemed to be the norm. Pete knew basketball because his dad lived basketball and the son inherited the hoop gene from the father. Kids model what they see at home. Press Maravich gave his son the opportunity, as well as the DNA, to achieve fame and financial stability and he loved his more famous son with all his being. I haven't reached the end of the story but I bet he wished he might have helped Pete to be more balanced in his approach to life off the court. Late in his life which was stunningly cut short by a heart attack at age forty, Pete made peace with himself and his dad after he turned his life over to God. What a shame that he seemed a tortured soul for so much of his four decade existence on earth. Parents make choices and children make choices. Great parents can have horrible kids and horrible parents can produce marvelous children. The Bible is full of advice for dads in regards to the treatment of their offspring. You can divide the guidelines into two categories:
1. Love them.
2. Teach them.
It looks really easy to me but I'm sitting in the stands in this arena. Bless all of you who have taken on the responsibility. And bless my dad who taught his kids how to live, although in a much more private venue than Press Maravich did. And bless my brothers who have taught and coached their sons, in the classroom, on the field/court, and in the game of life. And while you're at it, bless the mothers, too. They have a little bit to do with the outcome as well.

Applicable quote of the day:
"There is nothing wrong with dedication and goals, but if you focus on yourself, all the lights fade away and you become a fleeting moment in life."
Pete Maravich

To watch a clip of Pete Maravich while at LSU, click below!

God bless,
Luke 18:1

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