By Tom Bartsch
The allure of such a player is without question. The amazing ball-handling skills, flashy between-the-legs dribbling and passes with pizazz of “Pistol” Pete Maravich wowed crowds and helped him re-write the record books.
The amazing playing ability of Maravich drew the eye and affection of Norm Vener, a prolific collector of Maravich items he offers through his business, Yes I Can, and the website http://thepistol.net.
However, in addition to accumulating Pistol Pete items, Vener took a big step and put his fandom into the form of a coffee table-style book called Pistol Pete in Pictures: A Pete Maravich Pictorial.
The book, at 150 pages and filled with more than 200 photos in a 8-1/2-by-11-inch format, was the culmination of knowledge of Maravich’s life and an accumulation of a lot of Maravich photos.
“Three years ago I wrote a kids book, Floppy Socks and Moppy Hair, the Legend of Pete Maravich, and then all of a sudden, I had all these pictures from all these years,” Vener said. “I wanted to do something that I love and had knowledge of.”
The book follows Maravich’s life from birth through his death in 1988, including interviews with fellow fans and collectors.
“I started off in the business about 17 years ago, and within the first year, I wanted something to set me apart,” Vener said. “The first people I dealt with regarding Pistol Pete memorabilia were so great to work with, and he was my idol growing up. I felt it was a no-brainer to do a profession that I love and have a specialty in Pistol Pete Maravich items.”
Vener said he’s seen almost everything there is related to the flashy guard, but there are new photos being added to the mix with regularity. Vener said that’s partly due to newspapers going out of business. Let’s say a city had two daily newspapers, where one might have ceased publication or merged with the other. Vener has secured photos from the closing newspaper’s archives.
Vener chose to do a pictorial book because he felt there hadn’t been a product out there that did justice to Maravich in pictures, covering not just his record-breaking years at LSU, but his complete 40 years of life.
While some NBA fans think Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves could be the second-coming of Maravich, Vener says no way.
“Pete was one of a kind, and I don’t think in our generation, people will never see another Pete Maravich,” Vener said. “Certainly not to the effect of his scoring in college. No one has come close.”
And more Maravich fans are entering the picture, according to Vener – the kids and grandkids of fans who grew up watching Maravich.
“For someone who played 40-plus years ago, his records still stand, and that’s why people remember him,” Vener said. “He brought showtime to basketball. Everybody puts a little zip in their game because of Pete.”
Pistol Pete in Pictures is available for $50 from Vener’s website (http://thepistol.net) or call him at (425) 821-9958. He said the book wouldn’t have been possible without invaluable help from Marshall Terrill (author of the biography Maravich), who served as an adviser, and Rochelle Parry and Frank Filosi, who helped with design and copy editing.
“This is the definitive pictorial book on “Pistol” Pete Maravich,” Vener summarized. “It brings out the best of Pete Maravich in the sense that he was a great basketball player, but he a better man, especially after he found Christ.”