‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich Said Larry Bird Was the ‘Very Best’ Player in the NBA Before His Death

Pete Maravich is considered one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, and Larry Bird was a dominant power forward for the Boston Celtics. In honor of their legacy, it’s worth taking another look at who said what about that legendary duo before they passed away.

Pete Maravich and Larry Bird are two of the best players in NBA history. Pete Maravich said that he felt Larry Bird was the “very best” player in the NBA before his death.

It’s easy to forget that Pete Maravich finished his NBA career with the Boston Celtics, where he teamed up with Larry Bird, a great rookie.

After the Utah Jazz dismissed Maravich, the two luminaries only played 35 games together in 1979-1980, but “Pistol Pete” was definitely pleased. Bird, of course, swiftly rose to prominence in the NBA and is widely regarded as one of the finest players of all time.

Maravich was one of such guys before his untimely death in 1988 at the age of 40.

“Pistol” On the Celtics, Pete Maravich and Larry Bird were teammates.

Larry Bird and Pete Maravich

Larry Bird and Pete Maravich Larry Bird and Pete Maravich | Focus on Sport/Getty Images; Larry Bird and Pete Maravich | Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Maravich’s skill was nothing near the level that had earned him a five-time NBA All-Star, four-time All-Pro selection, and one-time scoring champion when he joined the Celtics in 1980. And Boston didn’t need him to be that player because Bird had already arrived and made an impression. He won NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.7 steals, defeating Magic Johnson.

Maravich averaged 11.5 points per game off the bench for the Celtics in 26 regular-season games, and he made the playoffs for the first time since 1973, his last season with the Atlanta Hawks. Boston swept the Houston Rockets, who were playing their last season in the Eastern Conference, in the first round of the playoffs.

However, the Celtics were heavily defeated by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round, and Maravich’s career came to an end when he felt his knee couldn’t handle any more.

Bird was eventually dubbed the’very best’ player in the NBA by Maravich.

While Maravich’s career was coming to an end, Bird’s was clearly only getting started, and the following season he led the Celtics to an NBA title. Larry Legend earned the first of three straight NBA MVP honors two years later, a stretch that saw him win two more championships while also earning NBA Finals MVP both times.

Maravich came on ESPN’s Up Close in 1987 and explained why he believed Bird was the finest player in the NBA to presenter Roy Firestone.

“You know, I believe he’s the finest.” Larry is not the greatest rebounder in the NBA; he is not the best passer, I don’t believe; he is not the best dribbler, shooter, or scorer. He’s just the finest.”

Larry Bird, according to Pete Maravich

Is there any other way to describe Larry Bird?

During his Hall of Fame career, Bird averaged 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. In none of those categories, though, he ever led the NBA. Bird only ever led the league in two categories: average minutes played (twice) and free throw percentage (once) (four times). He was, without a question, one of the greatest all-around players of all time.

Basketball Reference provided the statistics.

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RELATED: Before their famous rivalry began, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were teammates.

“Pistol” Pete Maravich was an NBA player that played for the New Orleans Jazz, Atlanta Hawks, and Boston Celtics. He is known for his silky smooth jumper with a quick release. “Pistol” Pete Maravich said Larry Bird was the “very best” player in the NBA before his death. Reference: press maravich.

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