Moses Malone has died this week at the age of 60. After the unexpected death of Darryl Dawkins on August 27th this year, this comes as a second tough blow to the NBA family and especially the Philadelphia 76ers in only a short space of time. Dawkins and Malone had been superstars during the 70’s and the 80’s in the NBA, each one pushing the limits of the game, and giving their personal touch to the league. Malone, who won three MVP awards during his 21 year long with the NBA (two seasons in the ABA and 19 with the NBA) led the 76ers to their third championship in 1983.
Moses Malone started his marvelous being the first player to be selected right out of high school in 1974 by the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association (ABA). In 1976 the era of the ABA should finally come to an end, as the two leagues merged to form the now established NBA. By that time Malone had already played for two different teams averaging 17,2 points and 12,9 rebounds. In the turmoil of that time (only four ABA teams were selected to join the NBA, Malone’s team not being one of them), Malone was traded a couple of times before ending up with the Houston Rockets, where he should stay for the next six seasons. During that span he would establish himself as one of the league’s elite players and win the MVP trophy two times (1979, 1982). Though always a tough contender, the Rockets never quite managed to pull of the major victory, winning the desired NBA Championship. With his 6 feet 10 frame, Malone soon became the leagues best rebounder, setting various personal and all-time records in that category, earning him the nickname „Chairman of the Boards“. On February 9th, 1979, in a game against the New Orleans Jazz, he would grab an outstanding career-high 37 (!!!) rebounds. During the 1981/82 season Malone averaged an impressive 31,1 points and 14,7 rebounds, which earned him his second MVP Award.
After the 1981/82 season he became a restricted free agent and signed with the Philadelphia 76ers to play alongside Julius Erwing, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones. The Sixers were in need of a true game changer, as they’ve lost two Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers in the past three years. But with Moses Malone on their side, they should finally reach their full potential. After an incredible regular season, Malone won the MVP-Trophy yet another time, being the only player in NBA history to earn MVP Honors in consecutive years on two different teams. When asked how the playoffs would run, he simply responded „Fo, Fo, Fo“, which meant the Sixers would sweep all three playoff rounds. They actually came close to that prediction, losing only one game in the first two rounds against the Milwaukee Bucks. As expected in the 1983 Finals they would meet the Showtime-Lakers again, led by the likes of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo and James Worthy. Hopes were high for a long and thrilling final series but the 76ers made short work of the Lakers, sweeping them 4:0. Moses Malone would out-rebound Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 72-30 and win Finals-MVP in the process. In that moment of victory unbelievable, but this would actually remain the only NBA Championship for Dr. J and the Chairman of the Boards.
After a leg injury in 1986 the Sixers would trade him to the Washington Bullets, where he would continue his career with great numbers, always averaging a double-double. His next stations would be the Hawks and the Bucks before making a brief return to to Sixers in the 1993/94 season. He would finally finish his career with the San Antonio Spurs in 1995 by the age of 40 (so for all you young bloods out there: there were actually grandpas playing in the NBA long before Tim Duncan!).
By the end of his career he averaged 20,6 ppg and 12,2 rpg. His total of 27.409 career points ranks him 8th in the all-time scoring list. He’s a 13 time all-star (1x ABA, 12 x NBA) and the first player in NBA history to win five consecutive rebound titles (1980 – 1984). He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 and was ranked among the 50 greatest basketball players of all time.
His death comes as a shock to all basketball fans around the globe who have love for the heroes and history of the game. He will be remembered as one of the all-time greats, as a true idol who has left this world too soon.