A lot of players talk about doing whatever it takes to win, being team-first. But not many are. Most of the time, it involves putting your ego to the side, getting over yourself as Coach Pop likes to say.
That’s at the core of all 76ers problems. Can Simmons star shooting before it feels comfortable? Will Embiid finally get in shape and stay in shape? If they need a blueprint for it, all they have to do is lookup. The ultimate team guy’s jersey is right up there.
Moses Malone is one of the most underrated greats the NBA ever had, and a large part of it is by design. A lot of times, certain players seek the spotlight and like to talk about themselves, so they stay present in our minds and conversations. Moses was different.
In 1983 he was the champion, Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP. Moses was also MVP in 1979 and 1982, 12 x All-Star, 4 x All-NBA First Team, 4 x All-NBA Second Team, he led the league in rebounds six times; as I said, one of the most underrated superstars we ever had.
Charles Barkley credits him as the most important person in his basketball life. He was his mentor when he came into the league as a rookie, helped him become a professional and find his perfect weight.
But when the Sixers wanted to retire his number, Moses just said “No thanks.” He didn’t seek the spotlight and more importantly, individual fame. Moses just wanted to work hard and win as a team. Simple as that.
When he finally accepted, he had a condition. He would only do it if the names of all of his teammates from his time in Philly were up there on the banner with his. So the team raised a 10-by-15-foot banner honoring Malone with the names of each of his teammates — almost 50 people — printed along the outside of a red, white, and blue frame.
Players today call it having a platform. Moses would probably call it self-promotion. You don’t do it for the fame and recognition. You do it for the love of the game and your teammates. When I miss the good old days, I miss guys like Moses Malone.