His silent demeanor and wariness around the media didn’t fit the killer Moses Malone was on the floor. Having responsibilities as a public person has always been off-putting for Big Mo. Thus mumbling answers became a trademark of his, and this is the story about the ultimate Big Mo mumble.
After the 82-83 NBA regular season had ended, Malone was asked to give his prediction about how would the first seeded 76ers do in the postseason. Malone mumbled a simple ‘fo, fo, fo’ – as in “we are going to sweep our way towards the NBA championship.”
Looking back on their regular season, you get Malone’s confidence to make such a prediction. The Sixers won 67 games and were sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference. The story behind their league-leading regular-season record was newly acquired center in Big Mo, paired up with one of the league’s best in Julius Erving. The two-headed monster of Malone and Erving, along with guys like Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, and Bobby Jones, ran through the 82 games schedule and were eager to make a run for a title.
Malone did end up leading Philly to the championship, which turned out to be the only title he had ever won. As far as his prediction goes – Big Mo was off, as the Sixers went 12-1 before lifting the trophy. They swept the Bernard King’s New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals but were forced to play game 5 in the ECF against the Milwaukee Bucks. Their offensive struggles in game 4 are what cost the Sixers their undefeated playoff run. Philadelphia ended up sweeping the Finals against Worthy-less Los Angeles Lakers, with Big Mo completely outplaying 35-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and running away with the Finals MVP trophy, as he put up nearly 26 points and 18 rebounds per contest.
“Everybody had a sense that this was our opportunity. We got off to a good start, got some confidence, and didn’t get cocky — we kept that good work ethic. I think Moses really established a lot of that. Julius had always had it. But then a big guy comes in and does that, and it helps.”Bobby Jones
Malone’s ‘fo, fo, fo’ prediction wound up as ‘fo, fi, fo.‘ An updated quote is what was engraved on the Sixers’ championship rings, thus becoming a tangible part of NBA history, instead of it being yet another mumble by a legend that was Moses Malone.