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A former ABA star and three-time NBA Most Valuable Player, Hall of Fame center Moses Malone was the first basketball player to skip college and go pro.
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Basketball player Moses Malone was born in Petersburg, Virginia, in 1955. A quick-footed and tenacious center, Malone was the first high school player to skip college and go pro. Over his 21-year career, which included several years in the ABA, Malone was a three-time NBA Most Valuable Player and one of the game's greatest rebounders and scorers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.
"I'll always be Number 1 to myself."
Widely considered one of the greatest centers in NBA history, Moses Eugene Malone was born March 23, 1955, in Petersburg, Virginia. At Petersburg High School, Malone was a force of nature and led the team to 50 consecutive wins, as well as back-to-back state titles in 1973 and 1974.
Initially agreeing to attend the University of Maryland, Malone changed his mind and skipped college, becoming the first high school player to go straight to the pros, after agreeing to a contract with the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association.
Malone quickly put to rest any doubt that the 19-year-old center could withstand the rigors of competing against older, more experienced players. That first year he averaged 18 points and 14 rebounds per game.
While Malone wasn't as tall as some of the league's other centers—he stood just 6'10", putting him at the low end of the average range for this position—he made up for it with his agility, strength and tenaciousness around the hoop. A deft scorer, Malone was also a fierce rebounder who controlled the boards like few other big men.
After a stint with the Spirits of St. Louis, Malone moved to the NBA following the ABA's merger with the league in 1976. At first selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the ABA Dispersal Draft, Malone was soon traded, twice, eventually landing under contract with the Houston Rockets.
Yet again, Malone wasted little time transitioning. Named league MVP in 1979, that season Malone tallied some of his best numbers of what would prove to be a long career, averaging 24.8 points and 17.6 rebounds per game. Two years later, he steered the Rockets to the NBA Finals, where the club fell in six games to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics.
Following another MVP season in 1982, Malone was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he teamed up with Julius Erving and drove the club to its first championship in 16 years. The 76ers were truly dominant that year, finishing the regular season 67-15 and losing just one game in the playoffs in a run that saw the club sweep the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.
Malone, who was once again named MVP, was a big reason for the success, with the undersized center leading the league in rebounding for a third consecutive year.
Several disappointing seasons in Philadelphia followed, and in 1986 the 76ers traded Malone to the Washington Bullets. It was the start of several moves for the famed center, as his numbers began to dip and his game started to slow. In 1995, after a frustrating, injury-prone season with the San Antonio Spurs, Malone retired.
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