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.
Markelle Fultz said his shooting problems were due to injury, and just a couple weeks ago, he insisted he was generally healthy.
But something is clearly amiss.
The 76ers guard finally appears to be acknowledging it.
David Aldridge of The Athletic:
Should we read into Brothers – usually identified as Fultz’s agent – being referred to as Fultz’s attorney? That sounds ominous.
There has been back-and-forth between Fultz’s and the 76ers about who deserves blame for his struggles.
J.R. Smith said he wants the Cavaliers to trade him.
But that was right after they told Smith he’d be shut down. He has been playing regularly lately.
Still, Smith isn’t pleased with Cleveland.
J.R. Smith, via Jason Lloyd of The Athletic:
“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith said. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”
And as long as the Cavs are operating this way, Smith is not interested in being part of it.
“Not if the goal isn’t to compete, to win,” he said.
If that’s what the Cavaliers are doing, that’s smart. They need premier young talent, and a high draft pick is the best way to acquire it. Because they owe the Hawks a top-10-protected first-rounder, the Cavs need to tank hard rather taking half-measures.
But I also understand why Smith wants no part of it. He’s 33 years old, and he doesn’t have time to wait around for a rebuild. He wants to win now.
Smith should shame the Cavaliers for tanking. That should be a consequence of their plan, even if it’s the right one. He is a casualty of it. If he shames Cleveland into trading or buying him out, all the better.
Kevin Durant once said he appreciated hecklers.
That didn’t appear to be the case during the Warriors’ loss to the Mavericks on Saturday.
Durant – who’s been sour after his highly public argument with Draymond Green – confronted Dallas fans and told them to “watch the f—ing game and shut the f— up.”
One witness who was sitting in spitting distance from the incident tells us … the heckler was just saying the typical NBA fan trash talk — calling KD names like, “Cupcake” and other insults.
Another witness tells TMZ Sports … the hecklers had been bombarding KD with the “cupcake” insults to the point where it became unbearable.
That witness tells us KD complained to the refs at one point but the fans were not removed or disciplined in any way.
We’re told the group laughed off the incident because they knew they got to him and ramped up the trash talk even more for the rest of the game.
Durant obviously has a history of confronting critics. But that’s usually online, not in person.
The NBA generally fines players for getting caught on video talking to fans this way. The league doesn’t seem to have a problem with players responding to fans when it’s not on video. Hecklers’ days are made when players respond, but the league doesn’t seem to account for that.
It’s an unfair system, but it’s the one Durant is in.
He and Golden State are also in a three-game losing streak. Snap that, and Durant will probably become more friendly.
Joel Embiid had a brilliant game Monday night, scoring 33 points with 17 boards. He’s a guy whose name deserves to come up when talking about guys playing at an MVP level early this season.
Plus we saw a motivated Embiid Monday going against No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, who Embiid said would get his a** kicked this year around the NBA. Embiid did his part, basically doubling Ayton in points (33-17) and rebounds (17-9).
But Embiid also had one spectacular fail — this missed windmill dunk.
Ben Simmons is not going to let Embiid forget about that one for a while.