Moses Malone Tribute
*Photo via Getty Images
When I was a younger cat coming up playing basketball in the parks, (around 1995) my boy and I got into an argument/debate with an older guy we played against.We debated who was better Shaquille O'Neal or Moses Malone.
Shaq came into the league with a force unknown to mankind, so every kid was on that bandwagon. We must have debated for hours back and forth. The older guy said Moses would dominate Shaq's young self if they played against each other, but we would counter with Shaq would dunk on him every time. We might have been wrong, just saying.
It wasn't until I got older that I truly appreciated Moses Malone's Hall of Fame career.
Well on September 13th,2015 the legendary great Moses Malone aka "The Chairman of the Board" passed away in his sleep at the age of 60 years old.
Moses Malone was one of the greatest centers of all time and in 1974 was the first high school player to skip college and play professional basketball in the ABA. Coincidentally, the second player to skip college and go pro was Darryl " Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins. The NBA community lost him a couple weeks ago as well.
Without Moses making that giant leap, you wouldn't have had Darryl Dawkins, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy Mcgrady and LeBron James. Malone set a path for those players by being the first to make that courageous move. A high school kid playing with grown men and becoming a dominant player. Malone did it the minute he stepped on the court. Drafted by the Utah Stars of the ABA in his rookie year and playing his second year with the St Louis Spirit (after the Stars franchise folded), Moses averaged 17.2 points and 12.9 rebounds per game in those two years with the ABA.
Once the ABA-NBA merger occurred after the 1975-76 season, in which the St Louis Spirit were not among the ABA teams chosen by the NBA, Moses Malone went to the New Orleans Jazz, and then was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, who then traded him to the Buffalo Braves. He played 2 games for the Braves during that season before he was traded again. This time it was to the Houston Rockets. In Houston, Malone was reunited with coach Tom Nissalke, who had coached him his rookie season with the ABA's Utah Stars.
In the 1978-79 season, at only age 23, Moses won the Most Valuable Player award. In 1981, he carried the Houston Rockets to the NBA Finals, eventually losing to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. Malone went on to win back to back MVPs in 1982 with the Rockets and in 1983 with the Philadelphia 76ers.
In 1982-83 season, Malone signed with the Philadelphia 76ers as a free agent and teamed up with the icon, Julius " The Doctor" Irving. Doc was getting older and he needed some help to get over the hump to win a championship. It was during this year and the playoffs that Moses uttered the famous quote " Fo, fo, fo" (four, four, four) when asked by the media how well would the Sixers do in the playoffs.He was close as Philadelphia won the playoff series in four, five and four games. Moses Malone won Finals MVP averaging 26 points and 13 rebounds as the 76ers swept the Los Angeles Lakers.
Moses and Dr J finally got that elusive NBA championship. It was around this time that Malone began to tutor Hakeem Olajuwon (who played for the Houston Cougars). He also mentored a young, fat, out of shape rookie in 1984-85 by the name of Charles Barkley. Barkley has said that Malone was a father figure to him and he continued to call him "dad" every time he saw him.
The "Chairman of the Boards" was arguably the best rebounder ever (no offense Dennis Rodman). Moses is definitely the best offensive rebounder to ever play this game. He holds the record for most offensive rebounds in a career (6731), most offensive rebounds in a season (587) and in a single game (21). Some said with a wink that Malone would miss his own shots around the basketball so that he could get more rebounds to build up his stats. It was Moses Malone himself who said, he got stronger whenever players pushed him more on the basketball court. Malone played 21 seasons, 2 in the ABA and 19 in the NBA. After the Sixers, he played for the Washington Bullets ( Wizards now), Atlanta Hawks, and Milwaukee Bucks. He came back to the Philadelphia 76ers for a year and then finished his final season with the San Antonio Spurs.
Moses Malone will always be a true legend.