Moses Malone, one of the best centers to ever play in the NBA, died Sunday at age 60.
Named to the NBA’s 50th anniversary all-time team, Malone led the Philadelphia 76ers to the 1983 NBA championship, where he won the Most Valuable Player award, one of three in his 21-year career.
Malone was a 14-time All-Star -- 12 times in the NBA and twice in the American Basketball Assn. He was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2001.
No cause of death was listed but he was found dead in a hotel in Norfolk, Va., after he failed to show for a celebrity golf tournament he was playing in, according to police. There was no sign of foul play.
“It is with a deep sense of sadness that the Sixers family mourns the sudden loss of Moses Malone,” the 76ers said in a statement Sunday. “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.”
Because of his ferocious ability to rebound the basketball, Malone was given the nickname “Chairman of the Boards.”
The 6-foot-10 center averaged 20.6 points and 12.2 rebounds while playing for seven NBA teams. Malone led the NBA in rebounding six times.
“We are stunned and deeply saddened by the passing of Hall of Famer Moses Malone, an NBA legend gone far too soon,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement released Sunday. “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 jump straight out of high school to start playing professional basketball. He had signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Maryland out of Petersburg High in Virginia.
He was drafted by the Utah Stars of the ABA in 1974, joining that professional team rather than going to college. He played one season for the Stars and another for the Spirits of St. Louis.
In those two seasons, he averaged 17.2 points and 12.9 rebounds, even then showing his rebounding prowess.
When the ABA merged with the NBA after the 1975-76 season, Malone started his career by taking a circuitous route before settling in to become an all-time great at center.
Malone’s NBA draft rights were held by New Orleans, but the NBA allowed the Jazz to place him in the draft pool in exchange for a first-round draft pick.
Malone then was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers with the fifth pick during a draft of remaining ABA players.
Portland traded Malone to the Buffalo Braves for a first-round pick before the start of the 1976-77 season.
Malone played only two games with the Braves before he was shipped off again, this time to the Houston Rockets.
He quickly established himself as a dominating force, especially because of his rebounding.
Malone played for the Braves, Rockets, 76ers (twice), Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks and finished his career with the San Antonio Spurs in 1994-95 season.
After winning two of his MVP awards with the Rockets – in 1979 and ’82 -- Houston retired his No. 24 jersey.
“Everyone in the organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Moses Malone,” Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement Sunday. “Moses was a true gentleman and one of the great Rockets and greatest NBA players, of all time. He will be forever missed. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.”