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Former Houston Rockets Moses Malone Dead At 60

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Just weeks after the world said goodbye to Darryl Dawkins, the NBA has lost another pioneer. Former Houston Rockets and basketball Hall of Famer Moses Malone died Sunday at the age of 60.

Malone was the first player in basketball history to make the jump right out of high school signing with the Utah Stars of the ABA. Nicknamed the “Chairman of the Boards,” Malone became known as one of the greatest rebounders in NBA history. With a career total of 16,212 boards, Malone is ranked fifth on the NBA’s all-time rebounding list. He is most remembered for leading the Philadelphia 76ers to a championship in 1983 however Malone’s career with the Houston Rockets was also significant.

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Joining the Rockets in 1976 after the ABA-NBA merger, the 21-year old Moses Malone quickly established himself as one of the top players in the league. In his first year in Houston, Malone averaged 13.5 points and 13.4 rebounds per game, while leading the Rockets to their first winning season with a 49-33 record. That same year the Rockets experienced their first taste of playoff success. Malone led Houston to the Conference Finals where they lost in six games to the 76ers.

After an injury plagued season in 1978, the following year Malone returned with one of the best performances in league history. During the 1978-79 season, Malone became the first player in franchise history to win league MVP honors averaging 24.8 points, 1.5 blocks, and a ridiculous 17.6 rebounds per game. Although the Rockets had the league’s Most Valuable Player on their side, Houston lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Atlanta Hawks.

Over the next few seasons, Malone continued as a dominant player in the league. During the 1980-81 season, the Rockets entered the playoffs with a 40-42 record. Although in last placed, Malone led the Rockets on a phenomenal postseason run. His 26.8 points, and 14.5 rebounds per game was good enough to lead the Rockets to their first NBA finals appearance. They were later swept in four quick games by the Boston Celtics.

Even though the 1981-82 season was Malone’s last year in Houston, it was another remarkable season. Averaging a career high 31.1 points, 14.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks, Malone captured his second MVP award. On February 2, 1982 Malone scored a career high 53 points in a 122-106 victory over the San Diego Clippers. Although he led the Rockets back to the postseason with a 46-36 record, Houston lost in the first round to the Seattle SuperSonics. Later that summer the Rockets traded Malone to the Philadelphia 76ers.

In 1983, Moses Malone captured another MVP award, and led the 76ers to their third NBA championship beating the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-game sweep. Malone played 20 years in the league and become a 12-time All-Star averaging 20.6 points, and 12.2 rebounds per game. He was honored as one of the NBA’s top 50 players in 1996, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001. He is currently eighth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 27,409 points.

Despite not winning a championship while in Houston Malone remains one of the top players in franchise history. In six seasons with the Rockets he averaged 23.7 points and 15.0 rebounds. He ranks fifth on the Rockets all-time scoring list with 11,119 points and first in Rebounds per Game. Moses Malone will be remembered as one of the greatest players in NBA history, and will always have a special place in the heart of the Houston Rockets fans.

Rest in Peace Moses Malone. You will be missed.

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