The Myth of Moses Malone

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Moses Malone 3 times NBA MVP
Valen Karl Ranoy

There was a time when the NBA is only all about two superstars: Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. They dominated the 1980s. Either one of them has competed in every Finals in the decade. They've been in all-star and all-NBA teams every single year. They have 6 MVPs, 8 Championships, 20 All-star selections, over 38,000 points, 15,000 rebounds, and 15,000 assists between them. Surely, they've dominated the '80s and placed themselves among the greatest to ever played the game.

However, there is one player who played in the same era and had as many MVPs, an all-star selection, score more points, grabbed more rebounds, and had blocked more shots than both Magic and Bird individually.

Dawn in the ABA

In an era where physicality is at its peak, he took the league by storm. He was drafted as a third round pick in the 1974 Draft by the Utah Stars in the American Basketball Association, widely considered as the first high player to jump from high school to the pros in modern times, where he immediately made an impact. He was then traded to the Spirits of St. Louis the following season.

He averaged 17.2 points and 12.9 rebounds per game in his two seasons in the ABA. He was also an All-Star and All-ABA team. The National Basketball League and ABA merged in 1976 and Malone continued his career for the Buffalo Braves.

Take-Off in Houston

Malone's stint for the Braves was short-lived as he was traded to the Houston Rockets after just 2 games. He quickly established himself as one of the most dominant big man in the league setting multiple rebounding and block records.

In the 1978-79 season, Malone had one of his best statistical season amassing 24.8 points per game while leading the league in field goal percentage at .540 and grabbing another league-leading 17.6 rebounds per game (grabbing 37 rebounds in a game against the Utah Jazz). He won the Most Valuable Player award and again set multiple rebounding records. He was also named as an All-Star, All-NBA Team, and All-NBA Defensive Second team. He was so dominant, he earned the nickname "Chairman of the Board"

In what perhaps one of the most dominant season in NBA history, Malone's individual dominance didn't translate to the team's success. The Julius Erving-led Philadelphia 76ers swept Houston in the first round of the Playoffs.

Malone continued his dominance the following season and led Houston to the Conference Semifinals where they fell to the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics.

Malone won his second MVP award in 1982 edging Erving, Bird, and Magic. However, Houston again failed to win a championship. He signed to the Philadelphia 76ers in the same year

To the Promise Land

Joining Philadelphia proves to be a great career choice for Malone. He won his third MVP award along with another All-Star and All-NBA selections. Ultimately, their duo of Julius Erving fueled the team in winning the elusive NBA title. And Malone's Finals MVP cemented his legacy as one of the best to ever play the game.

Malone's iconic "fo, fo, fo" (four, four, four) comment best describe their playoff run. The slaughtered all the teams they faced in the playoffs including a swept to Magic's Los Angeles Lakers and only losing 1 game in their playoff run.

The Journey Man

After a legendary 4-year tenure in Philadelphia, Malone was traded again this time to the Washington Bullets. Injuries limits Malone's minutes and games yet he continued to dominate inside the paint and set several NBA records and career milestones.

In the 1988-89 season, he signed for the Atlanta Hawks. He played for four different in his last six seasons - other teams were Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, and San Antonio Spurs.

He retired in 1995 after a staggering 21-year professional career. Finishing with 29,580 points, 17,834 rebounds,and 1,936 assists.

The Legacy

Malone is one of the greatest players to ever play the game. His resume includes: Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2001); NBA champion (1983); NBA Finals MVP (1983); NBA MVP (1979, '82, '83); All-NBA First Team (1979, '82, '83, '85); All-NBA Second Team (1980, '81, '84, '87); All-Defensive First Team (1983); All-Defensive Second Team (1979); 12-time All-Star; One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).

He might be the most overlooked player in history as he rarely mentioned in GOAT conversations and often forgotten. His tenacity, hustle, and passion for basketball is unmatched.

In the decade where Bird and Magic is the main attraction and in the game where centres used to dominate he surely made a name for himself.

Edited by Pratyay Ghosh


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