Pete Maravich, the leading career and single-season scorer in major college basketball history, died yesterday in Pasadena, Calif., after suffering an apparent heart attack while playing in a pickup game. He was 40 years old.
Mr. Maravich collapsed during a half-court game with friends, and died about an hour later. Gary Lydick, a member of the group playing, said that just before he collapsed, Mr. Maravich had told him he had played only once in a year but felt ''really good.''
Last May, Mr. Maravich was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., a tribute to his efforts as a pro that included a 24.2 scoring average and one league scoring championship. But it was as a player at Louisiana State University that he truly sparkled.
For three straight seasons, between 1967 and 1970, he led the nation in scoring while performing under the coaching of his father, Press Maravich, who died last April. In acquiring the nickname Pistol for his penchant for shooting the ball, he amassed 3,667 points in college for an average of 44.2 over 83 games, a National Collegiate Athletic Association record. In his senior year, the 1969-70 season, he scored 1,381 points for a 44.5 average.
He scored more than 50 points in a game 28 times and hit 69 points against Alabama in 1970, his collegiate high point. As a loose-limbed, floppy-haired 6-foot-5-inch guard with sagging gray socks as his trademark, he was an enormous drawing card.
He averaged 38 shots a game, of which about 17 hit the mark, but he also had a knack for brilliant ball-handling, dribbling and passing.
''Shooting is nothing,'' he once said. ''Anybody can shoot. The big charge is putting on a show for the crowd.''
Peter Press Maravich was born on June 22, 1947, at Aliquippa, Pa., while his father was playing professional basketball for the Pittsburgh Ironmen. He grew up in in the Carolinas while his father coached at Clemson and at North Carolina State before moving on to Louisiana State. Record Rookie Contract
After his college career, Mr. Maravich took advantage of a bidding war between the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and the Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association to get a five-year contract with Atlanta worth a reported $1.6 million, the richest contract for a rookie to that time.
As in college, he never played for a championship team in the pros, and his 10 pro seasons never surpassed the ones at L.S.U. Still, he won the N.B.A. scoring championship in 1977 when he averaged 31.1 points a game for the New Orleans Jazz. The next season he suffered a knee injury that dogged him until his retirement in the fall of 1980 after he was released by the Boston Celtics.
After leaving basketball, Mr. Maravich was involved in work within the religious community and recently as a basketball broadcaster for the USA cable network. He also ran basketball camps in Clearwater, Fla., and near his home in Covington, La.
''Most of my career was negative,'' he said a few years ago. ''I accomplished what I set out to do, but I lost my discipline and my career. I got involved in going out. I got by on talent. That was my fatal mistake.'' He is survived by his wife, Jackie, and his sons, Jaeson, 8, and Joshua, 5.