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Basketball great, Moses Malone, was born on March 23, 1955 in Petersburg, Virginia. Malone played in the ABA, as well as on the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs and Washington Bullets. Malone played 19 seasons in the NBA and 2 in the defunct ABA. Before retiring from basketball, he was the last ABA participant to still be playing in the NBA. In 2001, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
One of the game's all-time great centers, Moses Malone was a relentless rebounder and effective scorer who made the jump from high school to a pro career that lasted 21 years. The third-leading rebounder and sixth-leading scorer in combined NBA/ABA history, he was honored in 1996-97 as a member of the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
After two seasons in the ABA Moses Malone went on to become a dominant NBA player for well over a decade, leading the Houston Rockets to the NBA Finals in 1981 and the Philadelphia 76ers to the 1983 NBA Championship.
Malone retired following the 1994-95 season having scored 27,409 points and grabbed 16,212 rebounds in his 19-year NBA career. He made more free throws, 8,531, at the time, more than any other player in NBA history and also finished his career ranked second behind Wilt Chamberlain in free throw attempts with 11,090.
Moses Malone also left the game as third in games played (1,329), sixth in minutes played (45,071) and 10th in field goal attempts (19,225). Since 1973-74, when the NBA began keeping offensive and defensive rebounds as separate categories, Malone is ranked first on the all-time list in offensive rebounds (6,731).
Add in his two ABA seasons and Malone's numbers are even more impressive. In 21 pro seasons he scored 29,580 points, sixth on the all-time list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Julius Erving. He also grabbed 17,834 rebounds, third behind Chamberlain and Bill Russell. He's second in free throws made (9,018) and attempted (11,864) behind Karl Malone, fourth in minutes (49,444) played and fifth in games (1,455).
Not as tall as the game's other legendary centers, Malone capitalized on his strength, quickness and tenacity. Ferocious on the boards, he was the NBA's rebounding leader six times in a seven-year span. An equally crafty scorer, he averaged more than 20 points for 11 years, using an infinite number of post moves, a nose for offensive rebounds and a knack for getting to the free throw line. A quiet, hulking figure, his silent demeanor and wariness around the media masked his fundamental understanding of the sport.
Malone's roster of achievements is lengthy. He was the NBA Most Valuable Player in 1979, 1982 and 1983; an All-NBA First Team selection in 1979, 1982, 1983 and 1985; a six-time All-NBA Second Team choice; a six-time NBA rebounding champ; a 12-time NBA All-Star from 1978 through 1989; winner of an NBA Championship in 1983; NBA Finals MVP in 1983; an NBA All-Defensive First Team selection in 1983; an NBA All-Defensive Second Team pick in 1979; an ABA All-Rookie Team selection in 1975; and an ABA All-Star in 1976.
Malone holds the NBA record for most consecutive games played without fouling out at 1,212. He set a league record for the most offensive rebounds in a season (587) as well as holding the next best three seasons and another NBA mark with 21 offensive boards in a single game, against the Seattle SuperSonics on Feb. 11, 1982.
After playing two seasons in the ABA with Utah and then the St. Louis Spirits, Malone entered the NBA in 1976 with the Buffalo Braves for a very brief time and later the Houston Rockets. In his third NBA season, 1978-79, he led the league in rebounding (17.6 rpg) and earned his first Most Valuable Player Award. Two seasons later, in 1980-81, he powered an underdog Houston team into the NBA Finals.
Moses Malone won his second MVP Award in 1981-82 after averaging 31.1 points and 14.7 rebounds. That summer he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, joining a Sixers team that also featured Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones and Andrew Toney. The 76ers demolished the league that year, racking up a 65-17 regular season record and going 12-1 in the postseason to claim the NBA Championship. Malone was MVP of the regular season as well as of the NBA Finals.
He stayed with Philadelphia for three more seasons, winning the rebounding title with averages of better than 13 boards in the next two campaigns and posting scoring averages of 22.7, 24.6 and 23.8 points, respectively. The 1984-85 campaign was his last with the Sixers.
Malone's career peaked during his years at Houston and Philadelphia, although he remained one of the league's top scorers and rebounders for the next four seasons, two with the Washington Bullets and two more with the Atlanta Hawks. Malone finished his career playing with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Sixers again and, finally, with the San Antonio Spurs in 1994-95.
The NBA absorbed four of the ABA teams, giving many of the ABA's biggest names a chance to shine in the NBA. Most of these players would be out of professional basketball 10 years later. Malone, however, would keep going well into the 1990s, and upon his retirement was the last ABA veteran to still be active in the NBA.
In the ABA Dispersal Draft held on Aug. 5, 1976, the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers selected Malone with the fifth overall pick. The 21-year-old center never played a game for the Blazers, however. Prior to the 1976-77 season Portland traded him (perhaps set at the center position with a young Bill Walton) to the Buffalo Braves for a 1978 first-round draft choice. Even then, Malone's travels weren't over. After only two games with Buffalo he was traded by the Braves to the Houston Rockets for two future first-round draft choices.
Moses Malone found a home in Houston, where he was reunited with Coach Tom Nissalke, who had coached him in his rookie season with the Stars. With the Rockets, Malone established himself immediately as one of the NBA's most ferocious rebounders, particularly on the offensive end. He appeared in 82 games and finished with averages of 13.2 points and 13.1 rebounds. He ranked third in the NBA in rebounding behind Walton and Abdul-Jabbar and established an NBA record for offensive rebounds in a season with 437, shattering Paul Silas' mark of 365. (Malone would break his own record two years later.)
Malone also ranked seventh in the league in blocked shots with 2.21 per game. He delivered in the playoffs, helping the Rockets to the Eastern Conference Finals, which they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in six games. Malone averaged 18.8 points and 16.9 rebounds in 12 playoff games. He set an NBA Playoff record with 15 offensive rebounds in an overtime victory against the Washington Bullets in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Malone made the first of what would be 12 consecutive All-Star Game appearances in 1978, the year that would have been his senior season had he chosen to play college basketball. His scoring output surged to 19.4 ppg, third best on the Rockets behind Calvin Murphy (25.6 ppg) and Rudy Tomjanovich (21.5 ppg). His second NBA season ended prematurely, however, when he suffered a stress fracture in his right foot and missed the Rockets' final 23 games. Remarkably, he still led the NBA in total offensive rebounds (380) and finished second in rebounding average (15.0) behind Leonard "Truck" Robinson (15.7).
The Milwaukee Bucks signed Moses Malone as a free agent shortly after the 1990-91 season and made him a starter once again. The 16-year veteran responded with a resurgent campaign, playing in all 82 games and averaging 15.6 ppg and 9.1 rpg. He ranked second on the Bucks in scoring and first in rebounding, but Milwaukee finished at 31-51, tied with the Charlotte Hornets for last place in the Central Division.
Malone missed most of the 1992-93 season while recovering from back surgery. He finally returned to active duty to make 11 appearances for Milwaukee. He played only 104 total minutes and averaged 4.5 points and 4.4 rebounds. Milwaukee continued to struggle while developing young talent, finishing 28-54 and last in the Central Division.
Many thought Malone would retire after an injury-plagued 1992-93 campaign, but the Philadelphia 76ers convinced him to play another season -- his 18th in the NBA and his 20th in professional basketball. The Sixers signed him as a free agent, primarily to have him tutor 7-6 rookie Shawn Bradley. Malone, for his part, appeared in 55 games off the bench and averaged 5.3 points and 4.1 rebounds.
Hoping to receive some help in the pivot for David Robinson, the San Antonio Spurs signed Malone to a free-agent contract before the 1994-95 season. Malone, who turned 40 during the season, was unable to provide much relief for Robinson, appearing in 17 games before rupturing a tendon in his lower right leg. He was placed on the injured list on Jan. 12, 1995 and did not play again.
In 2001, Malone was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.