Former Philadelphia 76ers center Moses Malone - one of the greatest big men in the history of the NBA - died this morning at the age of 60. Below is the text of a statement released by the Sixers in response to Malone's passing:
"It is with a deep sense of sadness that the Sixers family mourns the sudden loss of Moses Malone. 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. Moses holds a special place in our hearts and will forever be remembered as a genuine icon and pillar of the most storied era in the history of Philadelphia 76ers basketball. No one person has ever conveyed more with so few words - including three of the most iconic in this city's history. His generosity, towering personality and incomparable sense of humor will truly be missed. We will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers and as we are once again reminded of the preciousness of life."
In 1974, Malone became one of the first players in the modern era to make the leap from high school to the pros when he was drafted by the Utah Stars of the ABA. As a 19-year-old rookie, Malone averaged 18.8 points and 14.6 rebounds per game, instantly cementing his place as one of the best centers in professional basketball.
After two years in the ABA, Malone ultimately made his way to the Houston Rockets where he played six stellar seasons, earning All-NBA honors four times. Shortly after winning the 1982 NBA MVP award as a member of the Rockets, Malone was traded to the 76ers in exchange for Caldwell Jones and a first-round draft pick.
During his first season in Philadelphia, "Big Mo" joined forces with Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones to bring the Sixers their first title since their 1966-67 championship run. Malone's infamous pre-playoff "fo', fo', fo'" proclamation was slightly off - the Sixers lost a game in the Eastern Conference Finals - but the team's 12-1 postseason run in 1983 is among the best in NBA history.
In 19 NBA seasons, Malone - who won three MVP awards and was named to 12 consecutive All-Star games - amassed 27,409 points, 16,212 rebounds and 1,733 blocks. Following his retirement midway through the 1994-95 season, Malone was chosen as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1996, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.
Malone is the second Sixers' big man to pass away in the past few weeks: On August 27, Darryl Dawkins suffered a heart attack in his sleep and died at the age of 58.
Our thoughts and prayers are with both the Malone and the Sixers families at this difficult time. RIP Moses - you will never be forgotten.