In memory of one of the most underrated centers of NBA history from Virginia – Moses Malone
Moses Malone was one of the best American basketball players of his time. He played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) for 21 years. He is so far at the ninth position with 27,409 points on the list of the highest scoring NBA players with regards to the total number of points in his career season.
Moses Eugene Malone as the only child to his parents was born in Petersburg, Virginia on March 23, 1955. Moses died in Norfolk, Virginia, not far from his place of birth, at the age of 60. He was American by birth and raised single-handedly by his mother Mary after his alcoholic dad was kicked out and left for Texas.
Malone was enrolled in Petersburg High School and that is where he began playing basketball. In his last two years of school, The Crimson Wave, a team he played for kept the win throughout. The total number of wins in the two years was 50 from the number of games and team won the Virginia State Championships twice. He took up college basketball at the University of Maryland and his coach was Lefty Driesell
Malone began playing professional basketball in 1974. At this time, Malone was selected by American Basketball Association’s Utah Stars during the third round of that year’s ABA Draft. His contract was worth $1 million and was to last five years. He played at forward because of his height and skinniness. He later added on weight and moved to the center. During his time at the Utah Stars, he earned an ABA all-rookie honors and got the name ABA All-Star.
He did not take long at Utah Stars which whacked 16 games during the 1975-1976 season. Malone was sold to the Spirits of St. Louis still members of the ABA to help try offset a debt that Utah Stars had. This was towards the end of the 1975-1976 season. In the ABA and two seasons only he earned 17.2 points and the rebounds per game total to 12.9.
ABA and NBA merged during this time but Malone had been chosen by New Orleans Jazz of the NBA under the undergraduate age. In 1977, Portland sold Malone to Buffalo Braves and he played in only two games while in Buffalo. The management failed to meet Malone’s demands with regards to playing time. He was traded to Houston Rockets. This was for draft picks in the two first round- one in 1977 and the other in 1978 drafts.
Malone played 82 games for Houston and Buffalo and on finishing the season, he had an average of 13.2 points in each game and 13.1 rebounds in each game and was third in the RPG. While in the NBA second season, he had a stress fracture in the right foot and did not take part in the last 23 games of that season. He was still leading in rebounds even in his absence.
He gained pounds in the 1978-79 season and was the best center of that time. He won the Most Valuable Player Award in the NBA and was leading the league in the offensive rebounds with a record of 578.
Malone at Houston Rockets
Malone had an average of 25.8 points in the 1979-1980 and ranked 5th in NBA. With 14.5 rebounds he was the first runners-up in the league. He had been an All-Star for three seasons continuously. He had 30 points and a total of 20 rebounds when Houston beat San Antonio Spurs. Malone was the leading with 37 rebounds against the New Orleans Jazz. He managed 51 points and beat the Golden Stars Warriors in March that year.
Kansas City Kings and Houston had a tie in the Midwest Division first season. Rockets made it to the 1981 NBA Finals but later lost to Celtics at 4-2. The second season saw Malone winning the MVP award with 31.1 points and 14.7 rebounds. He led the league in minutes played, offensive rebounds and as the season was ending he was placed in the All-NBA First Team.
He scored averagely while there which was the peak of his career with 53 points in a single game on February 2. This was against the San Diego Clippers. He hit 21 offensive rebounds 9 days later against Seattle SuperSonics.
Malone had a deal on September 2, 1982, with Philadelphia that was to run for six years and was worth $13.2 million. He maintained the MVP award for the send time and he was the only player in NBA with earning a title consecutively in different teams. He had an average of 15.3 rebounds in each game and was the 5th in NBA. He took the All-Star tile for the sixth time and got the first team honors in the All-Defensive teams and the All-NBA. After 13 playoffs, he earned the Final MVP title with 26 points and 15.8 rebounds. He beat Abdul Jabber 72-30.
He was top in the 1983-84 season in rebounds. He sustained ankle injuries which made him play only 71 games. In the second season, he made 22.7 ppg and took the All-NBA second team title. Malone couldn’t make it to the All-Star games after selection because of an ankle injury.
Time at Washington Bullets
Towards the end of the 1985-86 season, he had an orbital fracture in the right eye. Malone was traded to Washington Bullets later that season and had an average of 24.1 points and 11.3 rebounds being the All-Star Game for the 10th time consecutively. He finished in the RPG and ppg and was ranked 9th in the two.
At Atlanta Hawks
Before 1988-1989 season began, he had an agreement with Atlanta to play for them. Malone made 20.2 points and 11.8 rebounds and was the first ever player to get an average of 20 points and the 10 rebounds for the four different teams in professional history. He scored 37 points in the highest season against the Phoenix Suns in February 1989. In the next season he had 18.9 ppg and a 10.0 RPG. He was the leading in NBA with a total of 364 offensive rebounds. Malone was the starting center of the Hawks in 1990-91.
Malone at Milwaukee Bucks
Still, in this season, he managed an average of 10.6 seasons and 8.1 rebounds. He later signed a contract that was to last two years with the Bucks. His earnings were $1.6 million for the first season and in the second season $2 million. Malone was the starting center of this team in 1991-1992 season. He took part in 82 games and managed 15.6 points and 9.1 rebounds. His highest score during this season was 30 points.
Malone was in training camp in 1992 during the month of October but was left out. He had a herniated disc in the back making him miss out in the 1992-93 season. He underwent surgery in November and recovery took him some time. On March 27, he took part I 11 games while still with the Bucks and in the Central Division the Bucks did a 28-54.
Back to Philadelphia 76ers
At this time he was still a free agent and returned to Philadelphia in August. He was to mentor and back up Shawn Bradley who was a rookie then. Malone took part in 55 games and made an average of 5.3 points and 4.1 rebounds.
At San Antonio Spurs
He signed with the Spurs in 1994 as a backup center. His last season in NBA was 1994-95 and was the only former ABA who was active then. This was against Charlotte Hornets. For the Spurs, he played only 17 games and left.
Among his awards are NBA Champions in 1983, NBA Finals MVP in 1983, 12 NBA and 1ABA All-Star. In total, he managed 1936 assists, 17,834 rebounds and 29, 580 points.
Family and Personal Life
Malone was married to Alfreda Gill and they both had two sons. Moses Eugene Jr. was born in 1979 and Michael Malone years after. In September 1991 his then-wife Alfreda filed for a divorce terming her husband as cruel and adulterous. In June 1992 she was issued a restraining order that Malone keeps away from contacting her. Malone denied the placed stands and grounds of the divorce and in October 1992 a divorce was granted.
Malone was arrested in January 1993 driving in Galveston area in Texas. This was across the Galveston Bay where he had gone against Alfreda’s peace bond and entered his home. From the wife’s affidavit, he had stalked her and entered her home minus permission in League City in Texas, threatened Alfreda for death and vandalized property. He was released on bail.
Malone met Leah Nash in 2006 and dated her. Their affair resulted in a pregnancy and Micah Francois Malone was born. Neither did he marry her or live with her. At the time of Malone’s death, Micah was six years.
Malone was 60 when he died in his sleep on September 13, 2015, at dawn. He had checked in in one of the hotels in Norfolk, Virginia. On the day he died, he had been scheduled for a charity golf tournament as a player and couldn’t respond after not showing up for breakfast. His phone went unanswered too. What caused his death was atherosclerotic heart ailment and hypertension. He had complaints of an irregular heartbeat before and a heart monitor was found on him when he passed on. Malone was laid to rest in Houston, Texas at the Memorial Oaks Cemetery.
Moses Eugene Malone played in both the American Basketball Association as well as the National Basketball Association. And there is no doubt that he is one of the most underrated centers of NBA history from Virginia.