NBA great Moses Malone dies at 60

FILE - In this Tuesday, May 31, 1983 file photo, Philadelphia 76ers Julius Erving, left, and Moses Malone, right, hold the NBA Championship trophy after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles. Malone, a three-time NBA MVP and one of basketball’s most ferocious rebounders, died Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, according to a The Philadelphia 76ers statement. He was 60. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, May 31, 1983 file photo, Philadelphia 76ers Julius Erving, left, and Moses Malone, right, hold the NBA Championship trophy after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles. Malone, a three-time NBA MVP and one of basketball’s most ferocious rebounders, died Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, according to a The Philadelphia 76ers statement. He was 60. (AP Photo/File)

Moses Malone, a three-time NBA MVP and one of basketball’s most ferocious rebounders, died Sunday. He was 60.

Det. Jeffrey Scott of the police department in Norfolk, Virginia, confirmed that Malone died in a Norfolk hotel room. He said there was no indication of foul play. Malone’s body was discovered when he failed to report to a celebrity golf tournament in which he was scheduled to play.

Malone was part of the 76ers’ 1983 NBA championship team, and the club said he will “forever be remembered as a genuine icon and pillar of the most storied era in the history of Philadelphia 76ers basketball.”

A 6-foot-10 center who made the leap right from high school to the pros, the “Chairman of the Boards” is the NBA’s career leader in offensive rebounds and led the league in rebounds per game for five straight seasons from 1980-85.

Malone was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 and attended the induction ceremonies for the year’s class this weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts, before returning to his native Virginia.

His staggering statistics across 21 seasons and 1,455 professional games included 20.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game in his combined ABA and NBA careers. He holds NBA records for offensive rebounds in a career (6,731), season (587) and game (21).

“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,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.

Drafted by the Utah Stars of the ABA in 1974, Malone went on to play for eight NBA clubs and was the league’s MVP in 1979 and 1982 while playing for the Houston Rockets.

“Everyone in the organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Moses Malone,” Rockets owners Leslie Alexander said. “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.”

Malone joined the 76ers the following season and added his third MVP award while leading the 76ers to that championship after making his famed “Fo’, Fo’, Fo’,” prediction that the Sixers would win their playoff series in four-game sweeps.

He wasn’t far off: The Sixers lost just one game in that postseason before sweeping the Lakers in the NBA Finals, with Malone winning finals MVP award after averaging 26 points in that postseason.

“No one person has ever conveyed more with so few words – including three of the most iconic in this city’s history,” 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil said. “His generosity, towering personality and incomparable sense of humor will truly be missed.”

Malone’s death comes shortly after the passing after another 76ers center, Darryl Dawkins.

Born March 23, 1955, in Petersburg, Virginia, Moses Eugene Malone was selected by the Stars in the third round of the 1974 draft. He also played for St. Louis before being selected in the ABA dispersal draft by Portland, which traded him to the Buffalo Braves.

Malone would go on to play for the Rockets, 76ers, Washington, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Philadelphia again and eventually San Antonio, ending his career in the 1994-95 season.

He was a 12-time All-Star and chosen as one of the league’s 50 greatest players. Malone finished his NBA career with an average of 20.6 points and was a four-time selection to the All-NBA first team.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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