Moses Malone has always been overlooked. He didn’t win biggest with the frequency of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, boast the preternatural grace of Hakeem Olajuwon, or chase the spotlight like Shaquille O’Neal. It’s for those reasons – ones mostly unfair and essentially out of his control – that the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers legend is routinely left on the outside looking in of discussions among casual fans of the best centers basketball has ever seen.
But make no mistake: Malone’s resumé stacks up well to the consensus greats, especially when it comes to individual accolades and production. He was a three-time MVP, and the last award-winner to play on a team that won less than 50 games. He was a 12-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA First Team member, and was named to the Second Team on four occasions, too. Malone is the league’s all-time leading offensive rebounder – by well over 2,500 boards. From 1979-80 to 1987-88, he averaged 25.5 points and 14.1 rebounds per game, tandem scoring and rebounding thresholds that no player since has accomplished in a single season.
Then there’s this: It was Malone, not the famed Julius Erving, who won Finals MVP during Philadelphia’s 1983 title run. And it was the offseason arrival of Malone that spurred those 1983 Sixers to perhaps the most underrated regular season in league history, not to mention a record 12-1 romp through the playoffs en route to a championship over Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and the Lakers.