In his official letterhead on Thursday,July 3rd, Gov. Bobby Jindal openly asked the University why there is not a statue of Pete Maravich on campus, a question Pistol Pete fans have been raising since a statue of Shaquille O’Neal was erected in 2011.
Shaq, a national player of the year for LSU in 1991 and four time NBA champion, has all the credentials that deserve a tribute, but many have argued that the 900-pound statue shouldn’t be the only statue of an LSU athlete on campus.
Danny Brown, author of “Shooting the Pistol,” covered Maravich throughout his career at LSU and said the impact that Pistol made had a profound effect on the University and those who were able to see him play.
“I love Shaq to death, and I think he is a remarkable player,” said Brown, “But without Pete there would have not been a Shaq. Pete, without a doubt, put LSU basketball on the map.”
Maravich, who is still the NCAA Division 1 leading scorer with 3,667 points, was named the National Player of the Year in 1970 and averaged 44.2 points per game in an era without a three-point line or freshmen on the varsity squad.
“In Pete’s freshmen year the team used to play in the AgCenter, which would hold a little over 9,000 spectators,” said Brown, “And at the time, the freshmen team would play before the varsity. There would be approximately 5,000 people in attendance for a freshmen game, but by the second half of the varsity game it would appear to be closer to 500.”
The rise in attendance and popularity of the team during the Maravich era helped lead to the construction and naming of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, which has been referred to as “The Palace that Pete Built.”
Jindal’s comments may motivate action amongst supporters of a Pete Maravich statue, but the opposition have their own stats to back their position.
When O’Neal’s statue was built, associate athletic director Herb Vincent said Shaq was chosen because of his collegiate and professional success, the fact that he graduated and because of his popularity with young people, which helps with recruiting.
These reasons remain the foundation for the argument against a Maravich statue.
History junior Stephen Downer said while he admires Pete Maravich’s success on the court, it makes sense to have a Shaq statue because he is such a recognizable figure to younger generations. Pete Maravich has an entire Assembly Center honoring his name.
Student government director of athletics Jacob Oubre said he would support the addition of a Pete Maravich statue, but he doesn’t see foreseeable plan of action anytime soon.