moses-malone

Dominant and colorful, Moses Malone didn’t wait for the NBA or professional basketball to come to him in the 1970s. Instead, he came to it, becoming the first player to leave high school and go straight to the pros. After stints with the Utah Stars, Spirits of St. Louis & the Buffalo Braves of the American Basketball Association, Malone then turned his attention to the NBA which concluded with a 24-year playing career, three MVP awards, the 1983 NBA title with the “Fo Fi Fo” Philadelphia 76ers and induction in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.

Malone died Sunday. He was 60 years old.

One of the greatest centers in the history of basketball, Moses Eugene Malone was born March 23, 1955 and starred for Petersburg High School in Petersburg, Virginia. A prep standout, arguably the greatest of his era, Malone bypassed playing for the University of Maryland and instead was drafted by the ABA’s Utah Stars in 1974. His ABA days lasted barely two seasons before the league folded and was merged with the NBA in 1976. Stardom for Malone came early in the NBA after he was traded from the Buffalo Braves to the Houston Rockets in 1976. From 1976 to 1982, Malone dominated the league, winning the MVP award in 1979 as well as his final season in Houston in 1982. In between, he led the league in rebounding nearly every year and led the Rockets to their first appearance in the NBA Finals in 1981. His number 24 jersey hangs in the rafters at Toyota Center.

Malone’s championship glory came in 1983, the same year he was traded from Houston to Philadelphia. Becoming the only NBA star ever to win to MVP award a year after he won the award and was then traded, Malone help lead the Sixers to their only title of the ’80s, losing only one game even though he proclaimed that they would sweep all three rounds of the playoffs en route to a title. He dubbed the playoff Sixers the “Fo Fo Fo”. He had to settle for “Fo Fi Fo” but the name remained and Malone won Finals MVP with a dominating sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers.

His contributions to basketball are massive, helping establish a dominating force in terms of rebounding the tutelage of Hakeem Olajuwon and pioneering the prep-to-pro style that had been dormant for two decades until Kevin Garnett jumped to the league from high school in 1995. Ironically, 1995 was Malone’s final year in the league. He finished his NBA career with 27,409 points and an average of 12.2 rebounds per game.

Honored as one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players in 1997, Malone was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.

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