One thing I had been looking forward to when I came to Panama was catching up on some reading. I was given 4 or 5 really good books for Christmas and hadn't been able to start any of them. So coming here with some downtime and Spanish speaking TV, I knew I would get some good reading in.
On Monday I began Pistol, the story of Pistol Pete, and finished it on Friday. Growing up in the 1970's you had to be a Pistol Pete fan. He truly was ahead of his time, and I'm still amazed at his stats. Let these sink in - in college at LSU:
Soph year - 43.8 pt avg
Junior year - 44.2 pt avg
Senior year - 44.5 pt avg
And all of that was done without a 3 pt shot - if they would have had the 3 pt line, he would have probably averaged over 50 points a game for 3 seasons!
But his scoring isn't even the part that mesmerized you - he was simply amazing with the ball - dribbling and passing. Those no-look passes behind his back and between his legs were incredible. I remember watching him on TV and just waiting for one of those passes.
He scored 69 points in one game while in college and 68 points in one game as a pro. He was Elvis-like to the fans, and arenas were filled when he was in town. Even with all of this success and fame, he reveals in his book that he was still an unfulfilled person - he was always under pressure to perform and felt like he had to score 50 or 60 points every night - never felt satisfied because he had to do it again and again. As great as he was at basketball, he finally realized basketball couldn't give his life fulfillment or meaning.
After retiring after only 10 years in the NBA, he was depressed and still searching. He had tried many things, especially booze, to give him a reason for living, but it wasn't until he found Jesus that he finally found joy and peace. Thankfully his last few years he was a devout Christian and a great father and a wonderful husband - those roles gave him more peace and fulfillment than he ever received from basketball - that's true for a guy who averaged 44 points a game! (Pete died at the young age of 40 while playing a friendly game of basketball with Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family - how ironic but how fitting.)
It's hard to realize that truth about what gives us fulfillment when we are in the middle of the adrenaline rush or in the midst of the rat race, which we all find ourselves in at times. Pete was probably bigger in his game than most of us are in ours, and this God-breathed message was true for him, so it is probably true for us - think on that!
Men, in honor of Pistol Pete, tomorrow put on a pair of droopy socks and some tight shorts and then go hug your wife and kids and tell them all that you love them! (You can try the dribble between your legs later.)