On the night of Oct. 16, 1975, a near-capacity crowd of 4,177 packed UTC's Maclellan Gym to watch the NBA's Atlanta Hawks take on the New Orleans Jazz in an exhibition basketball game.
Stars for the Hawks at the time included perennial NBA All-Star Lou Hudson, Connie Hawkins, Tom Van Arsdale and John Drew.
But it was a player who didn't get on the court that night who might have accounted for much of the crowd. "Pistol" Pete Maravich, formerly of the Louisiana State University Tigers, was a member of the New Orleans club that year but was sidelined for the game due to an ankle injury - to the great disappointment of Chattanooga fans, sports reporters of the day noted.
Maravich, who had averaged more than 44 points per game during his college playing days at LSU of the Southeastern Conference, was a basketball legend throughout the South.
The late M.B. "Bud" Seretean, a Chattanooga-area businessman and then president and general manager of the Hawks NBA club, said at the time he was happy with the turnout for the game, which the Hawks won 107-105 on a shot in the waning seconds by Hudson.
"I was thrilled with my town," Seretean told the Chattanooga News-Free Press. "I'm as proud as I can be."
A newspaper report about the game noted that rookie Wilbur Holland led the Hawks scoring that night with 17 points.
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The game report noted that the Hawks overcame their traditionally dismal free-throw shooting to hit 25 of 30 attempts on the night, possibly accounting for their victory.
The Hawks were coming off a year (1974-75) when they won only 31 games (out of 82) under the leadership of coach Lowell "Cotton" Fitzsimmons. In 1975-76 the Hawks would go on to win a mere 29 games.
Seretean was a businessman associated with the carpet industry in Dalton, Georgia, and owned a house on Missionary Ridge.
Meanwhile, Mclellan Gym at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the scene of the Hawks-Jazz exhibition game, would go on to be the setting of some stellar basketball the next year. The UTC Mocs, who played their home games at the gym affectionately called "Big Mac," won the national NCAA Division II basketball tournament in the fall-winter season of 1976-77.
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