Flashback Friday! Who was the flashier player: “Pistol” Pete Maravich or Jason Williams?
LA native and employed by Ballislife since Oct. 2017, Randy is a content editor and supervisor for Ballislife’s various media platforms.
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Flashy is not a word you want to describe a player on your team. People usually hear flashy and think the player is a showoff doing unnecessary moves that doesn’t get the job done. When people hear “flashy,” they think of “all show and no go.” Basketball fundamentalists cringe when they hear about a behind-the-back no look pass. They’d rather see a jump stop with a solid two handed bounce pass for a nice bank shot. And that’s fine. Well… not really. Being flashy is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, the only pass you can make is behind-the-back, and other times you need to throw off your defender by doing something they’ve never seen. The game is meant to change and players are supposed to improve and create new moves and take advantage of the D. Innovation is part of being successful and that includes basketball. Pete Maravich and Jason Williams were some of the flashiest players to play in the NBA. “Pistol” Pete was a man way before his time while Jason Williams added a flair to the game that no other player brought. Both were criticized for their outrageous style of plays, but both brought an elegance to the game few others will bring.
Growing up as a Laker Fan, Nick Van Exel was my favorite player. However, Jason “White Chocolate” Williams was a close second. The way he played the game was not like anyone I had ever seen. J-Will strove during a time when streetball was becoming popular. His style of play brought streetball to the mainstream. Yeah, I know Rafer “Skip to my Lou” Alston was a streetball legend, but he wasn’t doing it in the League like J-Will did during that time. Skip was still fighting for his spot on NBA teams when J-Will was getting crowds hyped with his highlights. He threw all kinds of passes from no-look lobs to one-handed behind the head bullets. In the Rookie/Sophomore game, he threw a behind-the-back, off-the-elbow pass. He did things that I can’t even explain in words. He was always criticized for being too flashy leading to too many turnovers, which is one of the reasons why Sacramento traded him to the Grizz for Bibby. But during his prime, J-Will was one of the most exciting players to watch because no one ever knew what he was going to do next.
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Some of you probably don’t even know who Pete Maravich is, but he’s known as one of the best college players ever. At LSU, he averaged 44 points a game without a 3-point line. But we’re not arguing who’s better. “Pistol” Pete had a knack for doing the unsuspected. His style was unmatched during that time. He was throwing passes no one had ever done and came up with ones that NBA players to this day still can’t do. He opened up the game to a whole another style of play. Pete Maravich was one of those players I wish I could go back in time and watch him play live. I can only go off highlights and articles I read, but from what I’ve seen and read, Pete Maravich did things no one ever thought of before.
There’s no question that Pete Maravich was the better overall player, but who was the better showsman? “Pistol” Pete opened up the game to those who came after him, and J-Will took advantage and created his own flamboyant style. So who’s the flashier player: J-Will or Pistol Pete?