The death of former NBA great Moses Malone at the age of 60 stunned the league Sunday.
Malone died of an apparent heart attack. He was 60.
"We are stunned and deeply saddened by the passing of Hall of Famer Moses Malone, an NBA legend gone far too soon,’’ commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Known to his legions of fans as the 'Chairman of the Boards,' Moses competed with intensity every time he stepped on the court. With three MVPs and an NBA championship, he was among the most dominant centers ever to play the game and one of the best players in the history of the NBA and the ABA.’’
Malone was one of the first players to enter pro basketball directly from high school when at the tender age of 19 he starred played for the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association. After the ABA merged with the most established NBA in 1976, Malone was with the Buffalo Braves for two games before he joined the Houston Rockets.
With his aggressive play inside the paint, Malone led the Rockets to a berth in the 1981 NBA Finals, even though they finished the regular season with a paltry 40-42 record. Two seasons later, Malone led the Philadelphia 76ers to an NBA title.
Doc Rivers, the head coach and president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Clippers, said in a statement about Malone: “I am saddened by the news of the passing of Moses. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
“For me, Moses was a teammate, a friend and a mentor. He taught me what it took to be a ‘true pro’. The NBA lost a giant today and I lost a friend. Moses Malone - there was truly no one like him.”
Rivers and Malone were teammates with the Atlanta Hawks from 1988-’91, and again with the San Antonio Spurs during Malone’s final year – the 1994-’95 campaign.
During an overtime win at Brooklyn on Jan. 5, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki passed Malone to become the No. 7 all-time leading scorer in NBA history. Following that game, Nowitzki said: “When I was 17 Moses was obviously an unbelievable player, so it’s been a humbling experience to pass all these all-time greats.’’
A 12-time NBA All-Star, three-time Most Valuable Player and six-time rebounding champion, Malone finished his Hall of Fame career with 27,409 points. He also touched many lives throughout his 19-year journey through the NBA.
“Even more than his prodigious talent, we will miss his friendship, his generosity, his exuberant personality, and the extraordinary work ethic he brought to the game throughout his 21-year pro career,’’ Silver said. “Our thoughts are with Moses’ family and friends during this difficult time."
Malone’s death comes a mere 18 days after the death of another Sixers’ legend, center Darryl Dawkins, who died on Aug 27 at the age of 58.