March 1, 2015

The Philly Fifty, #25: Moses Malone, Sixers

For the complete list and explanation of criteria and scoring, check out the Philly Fifty page

Longevity – 2

Even though he’s damn near an icon in the city, he only played for the Sixers for 5 seasons. 4 during his prime, and 1 return engagement on his way out.

Peak – 5

The best player in the league in 1982-83, his first with the team, and darn near the best for his other 3 prime seasons. In his MVP year, he went for 24.5 points, 15.3 boards and 2.0 blocks per game. The next three years he averaged 23.7/12.7/1.3.

Popularity – 5

Fo’ fo’ fo’

Team Success – 4

229-99 during his first tenure, with one championship (1983) and 6 playoff series victories. That’s an average single-season record of 57-25.

Awards – 3

MVP in 1982-83, Finals MVP in same year, 1st team All-NBA twice, 2nd team once, and an all-star each of his first four seasons with the team.

Stats – 2

Because he was only around 5 seasons, you won’t see him at the top of many leaderboards. However, even though he is 27th in minutes as a Sixer, he is 3rd in offensive rebounds, 7th in FT made, 10th in blocks, 12th in total rebounds and 16th in points. On a per game average (at least 100 games played), he’s 6th in ppg, and 3rd in rpg – and would be higher in both had he not come back for that last season.

Historical Standing – 4

29,580 career points (NBA/ABA), 17,834 rebounds. Among the greatest centers to ever play the game, but not quite in that top category with Kareem, Wilt, Russell, etc…

Excitement – 3

Not exactly a high flyer, but was fun to watch his ability on the boards, particularly at the offense end. He was an amazing talent, coming in out of high school when no one else really did. And in his first season, at age 19, he averaged 18 and 14 for ABA’s Utah Stars.

Total: 28

For the complete list and explanation of criteria and scoring, check out the Philly Fifty page

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  1. Joe says:

    Moses was the missing piece to get over the hump for the sixers back then.  Didn’t he also go to the finals the year before wtiht the Rockets (I think they lost but cant remember)

  2. joof says:

    Wish I saw him play live. Maybe I can pop in an 83 sixers tape

  3. Ken Bland says:

    Among the greatest centers to ever play the game, but not quite in that top category with Kareem, Wilt, Russell, etc…>>

    I wouldn’t disagree with that.  Anyone who would probably’d look pretty silly.  But I don’t feel so silly wondering out loud to what degree MoJo’s career was reduced by what we might call “circumstances.”

    In no particular order, Moses was short on articulation skills.  Not that Wilt or Russell were propelled by personality, as opposed to on court skills, but Moses did so little to enhance his public image.  Wilt was a personality, and could convey it.  Russell was a philosopher, and spruced it up with a memorable laugh.  Kareem was quiet, but something still came through.  Moses was….well, you tell me.  Try non descript for starters.

    The other thing that “hurt” Moses was location, location, location.  Granted, he escaped the ABA by his early 20s, but the lack of limelight up to that time, 3 or 4 years was amazing.  Here’s this kid, who never talks as much man in a boy’s body as anyone up to Lebron (or Wilt, I suppose) pounding 20 and 15 a night in wasteland Salt Lake City with minimal media exposure and all you knew about him was what you saw in the boxscores. Even today, Kevin Love, playing for a non descript team gets a little lost in the shuffle despite great numbers, and Moses travelled that path.

    For whatever reason, this talented player wound up bouncing around the NBA more than you’d expect a key position player to bounce.  He got traded even before he started in the NBA.  Looking at the number of clubs he played for, and dare to include the addition of rights held to him, and you think journeyman.  It’s hard to think of one of thee greatest as upper echelon within that class with that in mind.

    At the end of the day, thinking of Moses as less than Wilt, Russ, and Kareem is more than probably right.  But if the 4 of them played summers at the same playground for a couple years, where publicity and image don’t count, MoJo might well not take a back seat to any of them.  Same as ranking smack dab in the middle of this list at 25, or behind Julius and Cheeks.  Skill wise, secondary to career achievements that they are, he’s probably much higher than middle of this pack. Would Julius and Cheeks have rings if not for Moses?  Probably less likely than his ability to win 1 without either of them. Suffice to say, he was a terrific player. Lack of obnxious ego that came across, that’s probably quite good enough.                 

  4. jjg says:

    Houston should’ve given the moon for prime Moses Malone, a FA in the summer of ’82.  Instead, they settled for Caldwell Jones & Rodney McCray as compensation.  Moses wasn’t a speechifier, just a killer.  Glad he passed our way.             

  5. tk76 says:

    As much as it is silly to buy into the “Philly loves blue-collar players” line…. I can’t think of a bigger star that ever was more blue collar than Moses.  The guy grsbbed his pick-ax right out of high school and started chipping away at the glass from the first to the last day of his career.  In a league (and on a team) where athleticism and flash sold the game, here was a guy who made his living in the trenches.  Quiet man of few words, but I never saw a player work harder in the paint.

  6. SportsMuze says:

    Moses Malone was a trend setter. He was one of the first to play ball professionally right out of high school. By being such a dominant player for so long, he is def one to consider as a pillar of Philly sports. 

  7. They never recovered from dealing him for Jeff Ruland and Cliff Robinson, especially with Ruland getting injured almost immediately!
    Dr. J, Moses and Charles all in the same lineup, not sure any team ever had a better front court than that!

  8. Sport Log says:

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