Moses Malone, an NBA Hall of Famer and one of the league’s 50 greatest players, has died suddenly, the Philadelphia 76ers said in a statement. He was 60.
Malone died in his sleep Sunday in Norfolk, Virginia, former teammate Calvin Murphy told KRIV in Houston.
“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,” the Sixers said in the statement.
“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.”
Already a two-time MVP and in the middle of the greatest years of his career when he joined the Sixers in 1982, Malone helped lead the team to its first NBA title since 1967.
That season, he earned his third MVP.
Malone’s iconic three words? “Fo, fo, fo” – a prediction that the team would sweep opponents in each of the postseason rounds. (Malone was off by one loss.)
His career spanned stints with, among others, the Sixers (twice), the Houston Rockets, the Atlanta Hawks and the San Antonio Spurs, where he ended his 19-season run.
Malone was also the first player to go pro straight out of high school when he signed with the Atlanta Basketball Association’s Utah Stars in 1974 at age 19, according to ESPN.
Malone was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, five years after the NBA named him one of its 50 greatest players.
“His generosity, towering personality and incomparable sense of humor will truly be missed,” the Sixers said. “We will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers and as we are once again reminded of the preciousness of life.”