Moses Malone, the basketball legend who was a three-time NBA Most Valuable Player, 12-time All-Star and Basketball Hall of Famer, passed away Sunday, ESPN reports. He was 60. Dubbed “the Chairman of the Boards” for his rebounding prowess – Malone still owns the NBA record for most offensive rebounds – the 6’10” center also won the 1983 NBA Finals MVP for leading the Philadelphia 76ers to an NBA championship. In 1996, Malone was named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History; his enshrinement into the Basketball Hall of Fame followed five years later in 2001.
“It is with a deep sense of sadness that the Sixers family mourns the sudden loss of Moses Malone. 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,” the 76ers said in a statement.
The first player to go directly from high school to the pros, “Big Mo” began his pro career in the ABA before landing on the Buffalo Braves in 1976 following the ABA-NBA merger. Malone was then quickly traded to the Houston Rockets, where he would spend the first six seasons of his career. During the 1977-78 season, Malone would begin a stretch of 12 consecutive NBA All-Star appearances. The following year, Malone averaged over 24 points and 17 rebounds for the Rockets, resulting in his first MVP Award. Malone again won the MVP in 1982, but the rebuilding Rockets traded Malone to the Philadelphia 76ers at season’s end. Houston would later retire Malone’s #24.
The 76ers, who had lost in the 1982 NBA Finals, soon became the benefactor of another MVP season from Malone as the center guided a Philadelphia team that included Julius “Dr. J” Erving to the 1983 NBA Championships, sweeping the Showtime-era Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals. Malone earned NBA Finals MVP for his performance.
“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,” the 76ers’ wrote in a statement following Malone’s death. “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.”
Following his exit from the 76ers in 1986, Malone continued to rack up rebounds in a journeyman second act that featured stints with the Washington Bullets, the Atlanta Hawks, the Milwaukee Bucks and a brief return to Philadelphia for the 1993-94 season. After a trade to the San Antonio Spurs, Malone retired during the 1994-95 season.
#Rip to the great Moses Malone
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) September 13, 2015
Malone ranks fifth all-time on the NBA total rebounds list, eighth all-time on the points leader list, and 24th on the blocks list. However, it was on the offensive glass that Malone made his most lasting impact: Big Mo’s 6,731 offensive rebounds is over 2,100 more than the next closest on the all-time list, Robert Parish’s 4,598. Malone’s record faces no danger of breaking, since the NBA’s active leader in offensive rebounding, Tim Duncan, is roughly 3,000 boards away from catching Malone.
Malone becomes the second NBA legend name-checked in Kurtis Blow’s 1984 single “Basketball” to pass away in recent weeks, following the death of Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins. “Just like I’m the king of the microphone, so is Dr. J and Moses Malone,” Blow rapped in the opening verse.