No, not by his own hand. Nor was it that God. First, let’s preface the story with his most recent pronouncement. In a New York Times op-ed on Thursday about a recent meeting of the fundamentalist Council for National Policy, he wrote: “If neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate.
“They also deliberated on “the advisability of creating a third party if Democrats and Republicans do indeed abandon the sanctity of human life and other traditional family values.”
It sounds suspiciously like James Dobson fancies himself a kingmaker. Or does he himself, like Pat Robertson once did, plan to run himself?
Not so fast, Reverend Dobson. In his recent book “Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich,” author Mark Kriegel narrates the little-known story of how the legendary basketball star died when only 41. In his final years, the troubled Maravich found solace in Christianity. On January 5, 1988 he was due to be interviewed by Dobson on his radio show.
But first, Kriegel writes: “. . . there was a more urgent matter. Dobson. . . was also an avid ballplayer, playing pickup games three times a week at the First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena.” Dobson gathered other players together including Ralph Drollinger, who had played for a championship UCLA team.
While Maravich hadn’t played in a while and didn’t look well, “‘Dr. Dobson was not screwing around,’ says Drollinger. He ‘was intense, like this was the NCAA Final Four. . . . Dobson wanted to tell all of his cronies how he schooled Pete.'”
He schooled Pete all right. Maravich soon began to sway and his eyes rolled back in his head, while Dobson held to prevent him from swallowing his tongue and Drollinger administered CPR. When the EMS crew arrived, it was unable to rouse him.
Maravich died of a heart defect. But the case can be made that it was Dobson’s zealotry, manifested on the court as sure as in the pulpit, that helped trigger the death of a basketball god.