"Pistol Pete" Maravich, 40, the greatest scorer in college basketball history and a dazzling ball-handler, died yesterday of a heart attack suffered during a pickup basketball game in Pasadena, Calif.
Maravich, who scored a record 3,667 points in 1968-70 at Louisiana State University for a career average of 44.2 points, collapsed between informal half-court games at the First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena. He was taken to St. Luke Medical Center where doctors tried to revive him for 50 minutes.
Maravich, who averaged 24.2 points during 10 seasons in the National Basketball Association, was in the Los Angeles area to appear on a religious radio show, "Focus on Family." The host of the show, James Dobson, was one of the players in the games.
"We were in a break and he walked up to me," Dobson said. "I asked him how he was feeling . . . . He said, 'I feel great,' took one step and fell. I began CPR. I called to him . . . but it was too late."
Dobson described Maravich as "a devout Christian" after having undergone "an enormous change" in his life. Maravich told another player in the pickup games that he had played basketball only once in the past year, in an NBA "Legends" game. The group had played three or four half-court games before Maravich collapsed.
"I think the great flair he had was what he'll be remembered for more than anything," said former Los Angeles Lakers great Jerry West, who played against Maravich in the NBA.
Nicknamed "Pistol Pete" for his willingness and ability to shoot, Maravich was one of the most flamboyant players in the sport's history. The long-armed, 6-foot-5 guard was known for drooping socks at his ankles and shaggy hair flying behind him. An individualist in a team sport, he could control a basketball like a yo-yo, changing hands with his dribble and passing behind his back and between his legs even at high speed.
When Maravich played at LSU, his coach was his father, Press, who died last April. His mother committed suicide in 1974.
Maravich, who was born in Aliquippa, Pa., attended high schools in North and South Carolina. At LSU, he set his scoring record at a time when players were eligible for varsity competition for only three years. His many records include the college mark for most games scoring at least 50 points -- 28. He hit a career-high 69 against Alabama in the 1969-70 season, when he was college player of the year.
The Atlanta Hawks made him the third pick overall in the draft that year and he signed a $1.9 million five-year contract, unprecedented for an athlete coming out of college at that time. A five-time National Basketball Association all-star, he moved to New Orleans in 1974 and scored 68 points in a game against the New York Knicks in the Superdome in February 1977, the season he led the league in scoring.
Maravich's career declined in 1978 after he injured his right knee attempting to make one of his fabled passes, a three-quarter court between-the-legs pass that caused him to tumble to the Superdome floor. In 1979, he moved with the team to Salt Lake City, then helped the Celtics to the playoffs in the spring of 1980 before retiring.
"Inch for inch, pound for pound, Pete Maravich was the best player on the hardwood," said LSU Athletic Director Joe Dean, who covered him as a broadcaster. "There were the Bob Cousys before him, but the truth is he did things with the ball that the Cousys could only dream about."
Maravich was inducted last year to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. In his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, Maravich described himself as totally dedicated to the game. "I even took a basketball to bed with me until I was 14 years old," he said. "I would just lie there in bed throwing it up and doing fingertip drills."
He is survived by his wife, Jackie, and two sons, Jaeson, 8, and Joshua, 5. They live in Covington, La.
Special correspondent Doug Cress in Pasadena contributed to this report.
MALCOLM S. JONES,
92, a retired Army colonel who served in combat in two world wars and who later founded a mortgage company in Falls Church, died of congestive heart failure Dec. 26 at the Orchard Ridge Nursing Home in Port Richey, Fla.
Col. Jones, a resident of Port Richey, was born in Posey County, Ind. He began his military career as an enlisted man in the Army. He served on the Mexican border in 1916 in the campaign led by Gen. John J. Pershing against the bandit Pancho Villa. During World War I, he was an Army medical corpsman in France.
He later worked in the dairy business in Chicago. A member of the Illinois National Guard, he was commissioned in the late 1930s and called to active duty in World War II. As an officer in the Army Quartermaster Corps, he was on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
His postwar assignments included duty in Japan. He was stationed at Fort Dix, N.J., at the time he retired in 1954.
In 1955 he moved to the Washington area and settled in Oakton. He went to work for the Moncure real estate company in Falls Church and in the early 1960s he helped found the Falls Church Mortgage Co. He retired in 1975 and moved to Florida.
Col. Jones was a member of the Military Order of the World Wars and the Masons. He also was a member of the Truro Episcopal Church and a founding member of the Episcopal Church of the Apostle in Fairfax.
His first wife, Mary Morgan Jones, died in 1972.
Survivors include his wife, Christine Botts Jones of Port Richey and Oakton; two children by his first marriage, Clara Joy Perry of Washington and Malcolm S. Jones Jr. of Laguna Niguel, Calif.; six grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.