Moses Malone, one of the greatest centers in the history of professional basketball, died Sunday in a hotel room in Norfolk, Va., where he was to take part in a charity golf tournament. He was 60.
Malone's body was found after he failed to meet friends for a ride to the golf course, Norfolk police told the Associated Press. The cause of his death has not been disclosed, but authorities said there was no sign of foul play.
Earlier in the weekend, Malone had attended induction ceremonies for the honorees at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
A ferocious rebounder who was nicknamed "Chairman of the Boards," Malone was the first to make the leap right from high school to the pros.
"It is with a deep sense of sadness that the Sixers family mourns the sudden loss of Moses Malone," Philadelphia 76ers Chief Executive Officer Scott O'Neil said in a statement. "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. 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."
After being acquired in the summer of 1982, Malone had an MVP season for the Sixers in leading them to their first NBA title since 1967. He averaged 24.5 points and 15.3 rebounds during the regular season in which the team compiled a 65-17 record.
Two other former Sixers centers, Darryl Dawkins and Caldwell Jones, passed away recently from heart attacks. Dawkins died at the end of last month and Jones a little less than a year ago.
Charles Barkley, another Hall of Famer and Sixers great, called Malone "Dad."
"Words can't explain my sadness," Barkley said. "I will never know why a Hall of Famer took a fat, lazy kid from Auburn and treated him like a son and got him in shape and made him a player."