He’d been ill for awhile…you may have noticed Syracuse wearing tributes to him late this season (the script “Pearl” on the warm ups was part of that effort).
Because he had a disappointing NBA career, you really have to be of a certain age to understand why he was a big deal. He was THE guy at Syracuse during the early stages of the Big East and thus was critically important in establishing that league as legit. He, Ewing and Chris Mullin were the guys who mattered in bringing that new conference to the forefront. There’s a great 30 For 30 ESPN did on the making of the Big East and it gets you into the ballpark of what a guy like Pearl meant. He was a flashy player, pretty much the epitome of the New York City playground player in many ways.