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.