Moses Malone: One of the NBA's original trendsetters

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The list of three-time MVP winners can be taken off the tongue by even the most casual NBA observer.

There are Kareem and Michael and Wilt and Russell and LeBron.

They come across easily.

Think Magic’s run in the late ’80s, which came just after Larry Bird hit the unprecedented streak of three straight from 1984-86.

Isn’t that it?

Of course, there are Julius Erving’s two ABA trophies, followed by winning one in 1981 – if we count everything from the red, white and blue era.

That’s the list, right?

Not exactly.

Moses Malone’s longevity might best describe his career, but he’s on that sacred list as the aforementioned legends, winning three MVPs from 1979-83, the godfather of great men who followed the ’90s.

In some ways, it’s easy to forget how it fits into history, and since he died in 2015 at the age of 60, he’s not seen at the events the NBA uses to celebrate its rich history. But on what would have been his 65th birthday, the play by Malone deserves recognition.

Julius Erving, left, and Moses Malone, right, hold the 1983 NBA Finals after their Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in four consecutive games. (AP)

During a five-year period in which he led the league four times, he was the league’s most impressive figure. His 1982 MVP campaign, where he averaged 31.1 points, remains the highest score for a center since 1980 – not bad for a man whose best skill wanted it more than you.

His highlight movie is nothing like Shaquille O”neal’s or Hakeem Olajuwon or David Robinson, no otherworldly athletic. Light feet, soft hands and a tip-tip-tip on the offensive glass, almost toying with tall men facing each other.

It was his sweat-soaked aggressiveness that was so valuable at the time and carried the only team under the .500 to the NBA Finals in 1981 as leader of the Houston Rockets.

“Tell your dad to drag Walton and Lanier up and down for 48 minutes!”“data-reactid =” 51 “> Malone gave the NBA so much trouble that his name should have been on the famous Abdul-Jabbar line in the movie” Airplane “when he told a child who was rebuking his efforts, “Tell your dad to drag Walton and Lanier up and down for 48 minutes!”

Nike’s marketing for Jordan showed a poster of Malone draped in Biblical clothing true to his first name with the caption: “Chairman of the plates.” “data-reactid =” 52 “> There was no Malone to drag up and down, not from Abdul-Jabbar or anyone else while rolling. was relentless in his chase, especially on the glass as arguably the best attacking rebounder of all time Such a monster Malone was, Nike’s marketing for Jordan showed a poster of Malone draped in Biblical clothing true to his first name with the caption, “Chairman of the councils.”

A trendsetter in every way, he went back to his previous college and jumped straight to the ABA in 1974, played two seasons before the merger, and landed in Houston in 1976 – alongside Erving and perhaps including his future teammate, Malone was the best export . Long before Kevin Durant made the controversial move to be an MVP that went to last year’s NBA finalist, Malone raised the balance of the sport with a similar move.

he coined the phrase “” fo, “fo,” fo “, saying that his team would overcome the three rounds of the playoffs at the time. “data-reactid =” 54 “> The league’s most irresistible force joined the Philadelphia 76ers, a team with a superstar in Erving, through a free agency in 1982, but that had fallen short of the Lakers in two of the previous three finals, so confident was Malone, he coined the phrase “” fo, “fo,” fo “, saying that his team would sweep the then three rounds of the playoffs.

“I wanted 12 games, I wanted to start the summer,” Malone joked later.

He and Erving proved to be the perfect duo as the 76ers made their way into one of the best single seasons in the league’s history, although they have been somewhat forgotten in the annals ever since.

Erving was the face, Malone the bike as they swept, lost just one game in the playoffs, swept the Celtics in the semifinals and demanded revenge against the Lakers in a convincing sweep that gave Malone and Erving their first and only NBA title yielded.

Malone and the 76ers were never able to duplicate their season with 65 wins in 1983, although Malone had much more productive seasons in him, maintaining his All-Star status every year for the decade.

He accompanied a young, chubby tour called Charles Barkley, the frustrated rookie said he was denied playing time because “you’re fat and you’re lazy,” Barkley said. It set Barkley on a pace that resulted in a Hall of Fame career, with Barkley thanking Malone for his development. “Data-reactid =” 63 “>He accompanied a young, chubby tour called Charles Barkley, the frustrated rookie said he was denied playing time because “you’re fat and you’re lazy,” Barkley said. It set Barkley on a pace that resulted in a Hall of Fame career, with Barkley crediting Malone for his development.

He was traded from Philadelphia in 1986 and again played for Washington, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and a stint in San Antonio before retiring in 1995.

The big man is extinct in the current NBA, the post-up plodders are being phased out year after year with a smaller, faster game.

Who knows if someone as unique or as dominant as Malone would fit into the modern game since there’s no reasonable facsimile for the way he played – perhaps Andre Drummond in terms of offensive recovery.

But there is no doubt about the sign he left in the competition – just look at the trophy case and the bruises on the big men he pushed aside to get to the plates.

Moses Malone of Houston Rockets rises 31 points and leads Houston to a 92-90 win on May 7, 1981 in Boston. Malone was the top scorer for the 31 points. The photo was taken with a remote control camera behind the background. (AP photo)

Moses Malone led the Houston Rockets to the 1981 NBA Finals, the only sub-.500 team to get there. (AP photo)

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