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Houston Rockets: Was Moses Malone The Hardest Working Player in NBA History?

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In honor of Labor Day, I’m going pay homage to the hardest working player in NBA history, former Houston Rockets great, Moses Malone. He is best known for leading Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers to the promised land in 1983, with an NBA Championship, but this would be Hall-of-Famer honed his skills in the City of Houston from 1976–1982.

In his six seasons as a Rocket, he accumulated five consecutive All-Star appearances, and two league MVP awards. He averaged 24 points and 15 rebounds per game while shooting 51% from the field and 73% from the line. Moses led the Rockets to the 1981 NBA Finals, losing to current Rockets Head Coach, Kevin McHale, and the Boston Celtics.

I know it’s impossible to prove when a player is fully maximizing his efforts, but Moses’ determination, desire, and pure will to grab rebounds were unmatched. He was nicknamed “The Chairman of the Boards” by his peers.

“I always laugh when people ask me about rebounding techniques. I’ve got a technique. It’s called just go get the damn ball”.

Basketball aficionados are well aware of his box-out technique, strategic positioning, and finally, his ability to attack the ball.

These are significant elements to good rebounding. The essence of rebounding was best said by a mentee of Moses, Charles Barkley, who was known as “the round mound of rebound”.  He said, “I always laugh when people ask me about rebounding techniques. I’ve got a technique. It’s called just go get the damn ball.”

Moses was a relentless rebounder and amazing re-jumper— he had the ability to jump, come down, and jump again without having to re-gather to jump again. This skill allowed him to finish his career as the NBA’s greatest offensive rebounder, averaging five offensive rebounds a game.

He ranks 3rd on the All-Time NBA/ABA Rebounds list, with 17,834. He was voted one of the NBA’s 50th Greatest Players. He was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.

In 1974, The Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association drafted Malone directly from high school with a four–year contract, worth over $550,000.

After 19 seasons, and playing for nine different franchises, he accumulated three MVP awards and one NBA Finals MVP, 12 NBA All-Star appearances, and one NBA Championship.

He also mentored two Hall of Famers in Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley. Current NBA players who entered the NBA straight from High School such as Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and LeBron James, can thank Moses for paving the way.

I appreciate Moses Malone’s work ethic and the contributions he has made to basketball. Do you have a fond memory of Malone? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Next: Steve Francis - The Forgotten Legend

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