Malone was a pioneer before he played a professional game, as he was the first player to go directly from high school to the pros, as he was drafted by the ABA's Utah Stars, before ending his ABA career with the Spirits of St. Louis. He averaged 17.2 points and 12.9 rebounds per game in his two seasons in the league, before merging with the NBA.
He was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1977, but never played a regular season game for the team. He was traded to the Buffalo Braves, where he played two games before being traded again to the Houston Rockets. He was one of the best players in the league right away, shattered Paul Silas' NBA record for offensive rebounds in a season with 437. He stayed as a dominant force, winning two MVP awards with the team.
His biggest moment came in 1983 with the 76ers. Originally, the Rockets allowed him to explore options as a restricted free agent, and signed an offer sheet with the Sixers. Houston matched the offer, but eventually traded him thirteen days later for a first-round pick and Caldwell Jones. The team got their missing piece to a championship run. Along with Julius Erving, Mo Cheeks, and Bobby Jones, Malone helped the Sixers win the NBA Championship and was named MVP for the NBA Finals. Malone also won his second straight MVP award. At the time, he was the only player in the four major sports to win back-to-back MVPs with different teams.
He made stops with the Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, another stint in Philly, and the San Antonio Spurs. During his second stint with the Sixers, he was mainly brought to help tutor rookie Shawn Bradley, before the rookie went down with season ending injuries.
Malone finished his NBA career with three MVP awards, a Finals MVP, a 14-time All-Star (two in the ABA, 12 in the NBA), and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001. His #24 is retired by the Houston Rockets. He also finished with a double-double for his career, averaging 20.6 points per game and 12.2 rebounds per game.
Sixers CEO Scott O'Neill released this statement:
"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."