As the news of the passing of Hall of Famer and NBA legend Moses Malone worked its way through NBA circles Sunday morning, there was a universal sadness among the NBA family.
Not only was Malone a dominant force on the court, but also he was beloved off it. You could feel that on Twitter as players past and present (plus some celebrities) expressed their sadness.
One of the most dominant big men of all time, an NBA champion and three-time MVP, has left us too early.
Moses Malone has died at the age of 60. He passed away in his sleep Saturday night, his former teammate and close friend Calvin Murphy told the local Fox News affiliate (Murphy and Malone were in Virginia for a golf tournament). The passing has been confirmed by his former teams the Houston Rockets and Philadephia 76ers, as well as CSNPhilly.com.
Malone is eighth on the NBA all-time scoring list at 29,580 and third on the all-time rebound list with 17,834. The only guy with more of both of those is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Maybe the best stat showing his dominance is this one from CBSSports.com’s Zach Harper: From 1979 to 1987 Malone averaged 25.5 points and 14.1 rebounds per game — since then no player has averaged that once in a single season. Malone was also one of the first players to go from high school straight to the NBA (along with Darryl Dawkins, who also passed away in the past week).
Malone was the big man in the middle of the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers championship team — he led that team in scoring and rebounding (not Julius Irving or Mo Cheeks).
“It is with a deep sense of sadness that the Sixers family mourns the sudden loss of Moses Malone,” Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil said in a statement. “It is difficult to express what his contributions to this organization — both as a friend and player — have meant to us, the city of Philadelphia and his faithful fans. Moses holds a special place in our hearts and will forever be remembered as a genuine icon and pillar of the most storied era in the history of Philadelphia 76ers basketball. No one person has ever conveyed more with so few words — including three of the most iconic in this city’s history. His generosity, towering personality and incomparable sense of humor will truly be missed. We will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers and as we are once again reminded of the preciousness of life.”
“Everyone in the organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Moses Malone,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement. “Moses was a true gentleman and one of the great Rockets – and greatest NBA players – of all time. He will be forever missed. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.”
Malone was a 13-time All-Star, eight-time All-NBA, and gets overlooked all too often in the discussions of the greatest centers ever. He was the only player to win back-to-back MVPs on different teams in different conferences. He was one of the greatest offensive rebounders the game has ever seen. He led the NBA in offensive rebounding eight times. He was known for getting the offensive board on his own missed shots — if you say “that’s padding his stats” I would say who was strong enough or had the quick leaping ability to stop him? He was a force of nature in the paint and a popular player with teammates and fans off the court.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
Before the game, the Spanish coach was told of a Pau Gasol injury — which is not what Bulls’ fans want to hear — and not to play him for more than five minutes at a time. But when it came time for him to sit, Gasol demanded to stay in.
Gasol ended up dropping 30, including hitting six of seven from three, as Spain topped Poland 80-66 to advance to the final eight teams at EuroBasket. Net up for Spain is a strong Greek squad and Gasol said he was good to go for it.
Poland was actually up three late in the third before Spain went on a 17-2 run that gave them a comfortable margin of victory.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Heissler Guillent scored 15 points and Venezuela pulled off another upset, beating Argentina 71-67 on Saturday night to win the FIBA Americas championship for the first time.
Guillent scored 19 points in the semifinals against heavy favorite Canada on Friday night to give the Venezuelans their first Olympic berth since Barcelona in 1992. Argentina also qualified for Rio by making to the Finals
Also Saturday, Canada beat Mexico 84-83 in the third-place game.
John Cox added 12 points and Windi Graterol had 11 for Venezuela, the runner-up in the 1992 FIBA Americas championship with a generation that was known in their country as the “Portland heroes”.
Venezuela won the title despite the absence of their best player, Greivis Vazquez, a point-guard for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Andres Nocioni scored 21 points and Luis Scola added 14 for Argentina.
In the other game, Cory Joseph nailed a 20-foot jumper at the buzzer to give Canada a dramatic win over the host nation.
Joseph finished with 11 points.
Andrew Nicholson had 20 points and Andrew Wiggins 18 for the Canadian team that wasted a nine-point lead in the last 3:21 of the game and needed Joseph’s heroics to win it. Marco Ramos led Mexico with 19 points.
Both Canada and Mexico will have another chance to qualify for Rio 2016 in the world qualifier tournament set to be played next summer.
Jahlil Okafor is not going to be the next Tim Duncan. Mostly because there is never going to be another Tim Duncan — he is for my money the greatest power forward ever to play the game. Sorry Karl.
That doesn’t mean Okafor can’t be great in his own right. Sixers coach Brett Brown — a former Spurs’ assistant who worked with Duncan — was asked on Comcast Sportsnet Philly if Okafor could be the next Duncan (you can see the video above).
“I think if we can help him with his rebounding and help him with his defense. Offensively, there are similarities. We’ve got to help grow him in those other areas.”
There were Okafor and Duncan comparisons around the draft, but those were more about the level of polish on the offensive game than anything else. Okafor should have an excellent NBA career, but to throw Duncan out as a benchmark wouldn’t be fair for anyone.
Another question thrown at Brown: Did he think Philly fans see Dario Saric — who has looked good at EuroBasket — anytime soon?
“I do. I think the city is going to see something extraordinarily competitive, very, very skilled and I think his personality, his style of play fits perfectly in this city.”
Saric has said he will come over for the 2016-17 season. However, there are financial motives for him to spend one more season beyond that overseas — if he comes over in 2016 he’s locked into a rookie scale NBA contract, if he comes over three years after he is drafted he can negotiate any deal he can get with the Sixers. It’s what Tiago Splitter and others have done; we’ll see what Saric ultimately chooses.