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.
Kevin Love has made double-doubles automatic. He’s taken the drama out of getting them.
So he added a little drama himself Wednesday by almost not playing due to a sore knee (he banged knees with an opponent last game and it swelled up), then playing with a balky brace on it.
He got his record 52nd consecutive double-double fast (in the middle of the second quarter with a free throw) as his Timberwolves were blowing out the Indiana Pacers. That moved him past Moses Malone into first on the modern list, since the NBA/ABA merger.
According to the Associated Press Love became the ninth player to ever (pre- or post-merger) to have 50 or more double-doubles in a row. The others are Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Walt Bellamy, Wilt Chamberlain, Elvin Hayes, Jerry Lucas and Bill Russell. Chamberlain holds the all-time record of 224.
That’s not to diminish Love’s accomplishments. He has been consistent and worked hard on a team that needed this kind of production. He has had chances because the Wolves are so bad — they are now 12-40 during the streak — but he took advantage of it.
Tuesday night in Atlanta, Kobe Bryant passed Moses Malone to move into sixth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Kobe has shot up the list since October, having this season already passed John Havlicek, Dominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Elvin Hayes.
Next up: Shaq.
You know Kobe is going to savor that one.
But it’s going to take a while. It will be next season before it happens because Shaq is a moving target. A slowly moving target these days, but a moving target none the less as he is still active.
Right now, Kobe has 27,423 points, while Shaq is at 28,590. That’s 1,167 if you don’t want to do the math. At Kobe’s current 25 points a game pace that is 47 games if Shaq doesn’t score ever again. And he will. Someday. When he gets healthy. Which he swears will be soon.
Kobe spews the clichés but doesn’t get too excited about these records. But passing Shaq? That he will enjoy, there is still a real rivalry there, even if Kobe won’t talk about it in public much.
With a three pointer from straight away in the third quarter Tuesday night, Kevin Love recorded his 51st consecutive double-double (at least 10 points and 10 rebounds). That tied Moses Malone for the all-time record.
Well, all-time modern record (post NBA/ABA merger). Turns out Wilt Chamberlain did it 224 times back in the day. But as he was a freak of nature we’re just going to pretend that didn’t happen.
Love’s feat is impressive, he’s racked up the numbers, but it’s questionable how meaningful it is.
Love’s feat is a testament to him being the league’s best rebounder — he is grabbing 23.7 percent of all rebounds when he is on the floor, the highest percentage in the league this season. Rebounds are about want and Love wants to get the ball.
Love’s feat is a testament to a fundamentally sound offensive game. He can drain the three — as he did to tie Malone’s record — but he has tremendous footwork that can get him buckets around the basket.
It’s a testament to consistency, bringing it every night.
Of course, part of it is Love is on a bad team where he has a lot of chances to shoot, a lot of chances for rebounds that he might not have on a better team.
The double-doubles also have not led to wins — the Wolves are 11-39 during the streak heading into tonight.
It’s not to say this isn’t an impressive accomplishment. It’s to say that there needs to be some perspective because for all he has done Love has a ways to go to make those numbers he racks up more meaningful.