Those were the days after Pete's 10-year NBA career had ended in 1980, when Maravich's childlike imagination and zest for the game turned to cynical despair and he was forming his radical views on food, medicine and politics. He even painted a target on his roof so the extraterrestrials could find him and take him away. In his final few years, thankfully, he found God and lasting contentment with his wife, Jackie, and his two young sons. A biography had just been published. A movie about his life was in the works. He reconciled with his alma mater. "We welcomed him home," LSU athletic director Joe Dean said. "Pete had touched too many lives to stay away."
Mine was among them. What I'll remember is the Pistol throwing one in from 40 feet at the end of a game in Hawaii—he scored 40 points in the second half—and the defeated St. John's team rushing onto the court to embrace him. What I want to forget is the awkward time when he was estranged from the game.
When the news came last week, I cried at first. Then I twirled a ball on my fingertips and laid it into my daughter's basket. I still sees ya, Pete Maravich.
BUSINESS AS USUAL
SI's Steve Wulf had this to say about the New York Yankees' signing last week of free-agent slugger Jack Clark, late of the St. Louis Cardinals:
Many people immediately assumed that 1) the days of owner collusion were over, 2) the Yankees had bought themselves at least the American League East title, and 3) the Cardinals had been reduced to rubble.
The first of those conclusions—that the free-agent market is again wide open for business—is absurd. Clark signed a two-year deal with the Yankees for $1.5 million a year, with incentives that could yield another $500,000 per annum. The Cardinals reportedly offered him a two-year contract for $1.6 million a year, with a possible $550,000 in annual bonuses. So Clark's new contract is in keeping with the owners' guidelines: Offer no deals longer than two years, offer no more money than the free agent's old club is willing to spend. "Collusion is price-fixing, not location-fixing," says Gene Orza of the Players Association. "The numbers aren't competitive. They're orchestrated."
The second assumption—that the Yankees are now a lock for their division's crown—ignores the fact that New York is still in dire need of starting pitching. Manager Billy Martin will have a potent batting order of, Nos. 1 through 6—Rickey Henderson, Willie Randolph, Don Mattingly, Clark, Dave Winfield and Mike Pagliarulo—but his rotation looks like Rick Rhoden, Richard Dotson, Ron Guidry (who's coming off surgery), Tommy John (who's coming off his 44th birthday) and Lee Guetterman, a 6'8" soft-throwing lefthander. The Yankees didn't need much more offense. They went after the wrong Jack—they could have had Morris in either of the last two off-seasons.
As for the Cardinals, well, general manager Dal Maxvill said the day after Clark's signing, "The sun came up here today." St. Louis may have made an arrogant mistake by antagonizing Clark, but it has already begun talks with another man who wields a big bat, free-agent Bob Horner. And as Mets manager Davey Johnson, an indirect beneficiary of the signing, said, "One thing I've learned in managing is that [Cardinal manager] Whitey Herzog always finds a way."
When the talks with St. Louis stalled, Clark's agent, Tom Reich, turned to his friend George Steinbrenner—in the past, Reich has peddled Ed Whitson, Al Holland and Gary Ward to the Yankees. Clark says he was upset with the Cardinals for implying that he was not a good first baseman. "They said I was a one-dimensional player," he said. So now he moves to the Yankees, where he will be a one-dimensional DH.