Pistol Pete Night on NBA TV: A Live-to-Tape Blog

With the NBA's lockout upon us, the league has made sure to scrub its websites of any current player images. The same goes for the NBA TV network, where in the past few days they have filled up time by airing a loop of dunk contests from 1988 to 1994. As the NBA digs further and further into their archives to avoid any chance that a young Jason Kidd or Kurt Thomas might grace the screen, it's a great chance for them to show games from the 60s and 70s, an era that seems to be documented moreso in print than on video.

Take Pete Maravich, who's legend has lived on through highlight films and anecdotal tales, but who among us have watched a full game he played in? I had not, which is why I was psyched to see NBA TV airing a Pistol Pete doubleheader on July 4th: a game from 1978 when he was on New Orleans, and a game from 1970 during his rookie year with the Atlanta Hawks. I decided this was such a special occasion that I might as well write up a running diary of the events. So without further ado:

Bob Costas is broadcasting live from the Superdome with an as of yet unknown partner. Amazingly, he looked and sounded exactly the same 33 years ago.
8:03 "Truck" Robinson with the first 4 points for New Orleans. The nickname game is strong in 1978.
8:06 Pistol misses a point blank lay up. This guy leads the league in scoring?
8:08 Lots of empty seats at the Superdome, yet no talk of depth perception issues. Take that, Butler Bulldogs.
8:10 Pistol throws a behind the back pass on a fastbreak. Not sure it was necessary, but it sure was fun.
8:16 No one has dunked yet.
8:17 2 failed Celtics coaches on the floor right now: Chris Ford and M.L. Carr
8:18 Costas just informed us that the Knicks are leading Denver 23-22. Go Knicks! Earl the Pearl!
8:20 Bob Lanier dominating for Detroit inside. Nice footwork, soft touch. Shades of Hakeem.
8:21 Eric Money is taking three free throws to make two. I think he missed one on purpose for laffs. Glad that rule was changed!
8:24 Aaron "The Original King" James is keeping the Jazz in it.
8:25 Costas informs us Denver now leads the Knicks by one. Typical Knicks! Step it up, Lonnie Shelton!
8:26 Gail Goodrich hits a 35 footer at the buzzer. Somehow, it's only worth two points.
8:31 Another missed layup by Pistol. So far, not his best game. Maybe NBA TV wanted to showcase Eric Money instead?
8:34 Nope, Eric Money just missed a layup too. The dunk was legal by 1978, right?
8:37 Costas just mentioned that Stu Lance is doing color. I thought it was Steve "Snapper" Jones this whole time.
8:38 Chris Ford with a Maravichian behind the back pass to a tall (and striking) blonde dude for an easy two.
8:39 Finally, a dunk! Pistol to Truck. If you could dunk back then, you were given a hyper-masculine nickname.
8:40 Kinda nervous about this Knicks/Denver game. Can I get an update, Bob? The internet doesn't exist yet, bro.
8:41 Ugh, he just gave me the Sixers/GSW score instead. It must've sucked being an out of market NBA fan in 1978.
8:44 Bob Lanier still killing it. First time watching him and I'm really impressed.
8:46 30 seconds left and they finally show the clock. I had enjoyed watching the game in a timeless vacuum.

Halftime. Detroit 58, NOJ 53, I'm anticipating a big 2nd half from Pistol, 'cause otherwise NBA TV put on the wrong game.

8:51 Maravich starting the 2nd half strong with a jumper off the dribble. Costas points out that not too many can do that as well as Pistol.
8:53 Some guy on the Jazz named Kelley just dunked, I'm nicknaming him THE VAN.
8:54 Pistol just completely fucked up a three-on-one by getting too fancy but the Jazz score anyway and have now taken the lead.
8:59 Eric Money hits three in a row for Detroit. He has 17 points, and all of them were equally money.
9:01 The Knicks are now up two on Denver. This is apparently the closest game in NBA history.
9:03 I wonder how many people sitting in the front row are still alive. A good 70%?
9:04 Slick Watts, who has a shaved head, puts his headband on and Costas just quipped that its to "keep the skin out of his eyes". C+
9:06 These teams have already combined for 36 turnovers and its still only the 3rd quarter. Cocaine's a hell of a drug.
9:07 Pistol's got 20, but he's still no Eric Money.
9:11 Costas just said "money" 8 times in one sentence.

End of the 3rd quarter. Detroit is up 3. No word on Denver/NYK.

9:21 Maravich misses a lefty lay up, but man, was it pretty.
9:27 NBA TV is calling this "Old School Monday." I'm psyched for "We Have Nothing Else To Show Wednesday."
9:31 Pistol puts the Jazz up by three. Stu Lance points out that while most players take it to the basket on fast breaks, Pete will pull up from anywhere.
9:34 Pistol taking over. I think the crowd is into it but I can only see the front row. The guy in the pink shirt is into it.
9:40 Costas relays a story about how Pistol told the Jazz to trade the GM instead after hearing he was on the block. On an unrelated note, he only played two more years in the NBA after this.
9:47 With 30 seconds left, the Pistons are down three. The three point line still does not exist but the Money man cuts it to one.
9:50 Money cuts it to one again after Goodrich makes 2 free throws, but the Jazz throw it full court and the Truck dunks it as time expires. Jazz win!
9:54 Wait, who won the Knicks/Denver game? Where are you, Bob Costas?!?
9:57 NBA TV is showing MJ highlights as filler in between games. I'm guessing this will be a regular occurrence during the lockout. I could watch these all day.

The second half of this marquee "Pistol Pete doubleheader!" features a game from his rookie year in Atlanta, during the 1970 season. Their opponent was Connie Hawkins, and the Phoenix Suns.

10:00 Keith Jackson is doing the game. The Hawks jerseys are hurting my retinas. I may not last much longer.
10:02 Pete gets the 1st two on an uncontested layup. Could he dunk? I guess he would've been the BAZOOKA then.
10:04 Very pretty no-look from Pete. He already looks more free-wheelin' than in the previous game where he was comparatively old and bitter.
10:06 The Hawks have a guy named Lou Hudson who is averaging 28 ppg. I have never heard of him. I'm guessing that is because he was on the Hawks.
10:09 Pete with an underhanded outlet pass. This is so fun. Shades of 1999 Jason Williams. (Can someone from the past be "shades of" someone in the future?)
10:10 I'm too enamored with rookie Pistol to say anything worthwhile so I'll end it here before it becomes The Chris Farley Show with guest Pete Maravich.

Lets just say Pistol Pete's first few 7"s were the best.

For exclusive commentary on basketball and culture, check out more Negative Dunkalectics, follow @negativedunks on Twitter, and become our fan on Facebook.

The Star-Spangled Banner

Today is America's Independence Day. Since African American players have made up the majority of the league for several decades, it may not be a surprise that the NBA has a complicated history with the national anthem (and with all due respect to Raptors fans, I'm not referring to "O Canada").

The relationship of African Americans to American patriotism can be a complex one overdetermined by the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow, disproportionate rates of military service, a frequent love of home and geographic place, economic class, an alternatively conservative and liberating culture vis a vis Protestantism, and many other factors -- and in the athletic realm -- the Olympics as a showcase for the most successful black athletes in the world under the Stars and Stripes. You may see the same family fly a flag in their yard and have great respect for servicemen and women, but be very critical of their country's shortcomings on race.

So during that two minutes players stand before their games, the NBA has reflected these contradictions. We've even seen some players sing the anthem themselves and others refuse to stand for it. Josh Howard's comments about the enforced patriotism of the national anthem were likely that of many players, though he was the one "caught" saying them thanks to an era of cell phone videos and the internet.

But as I watched (for the 1000th time) the video of Marvin Gaye singing the national anthem at the 1983 All-Star game I realized much of this isn't quite a "contradiction." Perhaps many players have discovered their own resolutions to the antagonism between enforced patriotism and a long history of discrimination.

In the case of Marvin, his own soulful rendition implied that this is not only an American (and therefore, by historical ideology, white) national anthem anymore, but a specifically Black American rendition, embracing a legacy of change.

Marvin was not have been the first to interpret the anthem his own: Jose Feliciano faced incredible backlash for his 1968 version. Jimi Hendrix added his own interpretation a year later at Woodstock. And Marvin had his own evolution with the anthem at public events himself.

And like most great moments of original artistic expression brought to the people, the logic of postmodernism recycled it. The 2004 NBA All-Star Game featured Nona Gaye singing along with a video of her late father and the inevitable Nike ad featuring the work of someone who couldn't decide for himself if his voice should be part of their commercial or not.

But the greatness of Marvin's arrangement remains. And it happened at the All-Star game of the sport most associated with Black American culture, which has long been incredibly flexible and adaptive and able to turn what was once oppressive into something liberating. His performance could be made into a dozen commercials and it wouldn't take away anything from an original performance that inspires this listener to thoughts of the complexity of patriotism and culture -- and the beauty in a struggle and a song.
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. - John Keats
So happy 4th of July, Negative Dunkalectics readers. Without further ado, Marvin Gaye:

For exclusive commentary on basketball and culture, check out more Negative Dunkalectics, follow @negativedunks on Twitter, and become our fan on Facebook.