J.A. Adande, ESPN Senior Writer
ESPN.com senior writer since 2007
Around The Horn panelist
Formerly at Los Angeles Times
In the midst of recalling Moses Malone’s statistical dominance at his peak, all the nights he’d put 35 points and 20 rebounds in the box score, longtime Houston Rockets coach and executive Carroll Dawson paused to throw out another number.
The number came out of the blue, just as news of Malone’s death came out of the blue on Sunday. Sixty years old. It seems almost mathematically impossible for someone who became a pro basketball player so long ago (1974) and enjoyed a career that lasted 21 seasons. Put it this way: He played his last NBA game 20 years ago and still hadn’t reached the standard retirement age in the United States.
Three-time NBA MVP and Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Moses Malone has died at the age of 60, it was announced Sunday.
From high school to the pros, Moses Malone was a powerful presence on the basketball court. These photos illuminate his life journey.
The numbers lead to the reminder that Moses Malone came to the pros straight out of high school; he was 19 years old when he joined the Utah Stars of the ABA. Malone was a pioneer, something that’s easily lost to later generations that think of Kevin Garnett as the first preps-to-pros star.
Another way Malone was ahead of his time: wearing Nike shoes. The reason there weren’t more Hall of Fame players in the original Air Force 1 poster is that in 1982, all of the biggest names — Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Dr. J — wore Converse. Even Michael Jordan was wearing Converse back then while playing at North Carolina. Jordan signed with the swoosh upon entering the NBA in 1984 and forever changed the shoe game. But Moses was there first.
The more you read about Moses Malone, the more impossible it is to avoid the conclusion that Malone is most underappreciated great player of the modern NBA.
We think of the early 1980s as the dawn of the Magic-Bird era, but Moses was the guy winning back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards in 1982 and 1983, before either of them got their hands on the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. Malone was so dominant back then that when he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers on Sept. 2, 1982, I still remember how the news broke on the radio: “The 76ers won the …Read More