A Curious Comparison Between Our Okafor and Moses Malone


Apr 7, 2015; Durham, NC, USA;Duke Blue Devils center

Jahlil Okafor

watches a highlight video during a welcome home ceremony at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

A Curious Comparison Between Our Okafor and Moses Malone

Sometimes articles write themselves. Sometimes a topic is already abuzz on the social media. But occasionally, the story that needs to be told jumps out of another story. That was the reason for this story. When writing about The Missing Link I stumbled upon a comparison between Jahlil Okafor and former Sixer standout, Moses Malone.   Since it was later in the evening, I marked a story down on a note pad and tried to sleep.  Okafor and Moses Malone made it to the paper before I nodded off …

Note the word tried….

Here I sit, 4 o clock in the morning in my Alaska time zone , looking at the clock and wondering when I became such a self-driven automaton that needs so little sleep.

First of all we need to establish the qualities of the great Moses Malone.   That’s been done via youtube.  Check this out:

Malone was very young, being one of the first players to make the jump from high school to Pro Basketball. His style of play was entirely the role of the big man in the low post. He was an offensive weapon, pure and simple. Moses Malone had a 21 year NBA career as a center. He was a physical man in a very physically demanding position. In his 21 pro seasons he scored 29,580 points, sixth on the all-time list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Julius Erving. He also grabbed 17,834 rebounds, third behind Chamberlain and Bill Russell. He’s second in free throws made (9,018) and attempted (11,864) behind Karl Malone, fourth in minutes (49,444) played and fifth in games (1,455). Need more visual proof? Here’s another highlight video:

Not as tall as the game’s other legendary centers, Malone instead employed strength, quickness and tenacity. Ferocious on the boards, he was the NBA’s rebounding leader six times in a seven-year span. An equally crafty scorer, he averaged more than 20 points for 11 years, using an infinite number of post moves, a nose for offensive rebounds and a knack for getting to the free throw line. He was a comic in private, but was a quiet demure man with a microphone and a camera rolling. His reserved nature to the media camouflaged his true understanding of the game. Malone holds the NBA record for most consecutive games played without fouling out at 1,212. He set a league record for the most offensive rebounds in a season (587) as well as holding the next best three seasons and another NBA mark with 21 offensive boards in a single game, against the Seattle SuperSonics on Feb. 11, 1982.

Now flip the page to today. Once more we find a young man who is making the jump to professional basketball at a young age. Once more we find a Sixer who finds himself entire at home in the post, and who is a dedicated offensive weapon. Not as tall as some of his counterparts, he will rely upon his size and physicality to gain position and find the shot. Could this be the second coming of Moses Malone? Perhaps. Watch this and you decide:

Jahlil Okafor is not doing anything new in the NBA folks. But the game has evolved and some have begun to whisper that the day of the big man is long gone. Funny, they had once said the same thing in the day of Moses. When you have a good scorer who loves the feel under the basket, you have something so rare that it’s seldom been seen in the NBA in recent years. But Okafor is a throw-back to yesteryear, an almost reincarnated version of the big body center who loves the crowd.

Okafor owns the post. He admits its his bread and butter shot. It was the bread and butter of Malone before him.

Mine is not the first eye to catch the similarities. If you check out forums in Philly.com, you will find that some fans have already ID’d the uncanny similarity between Okafor’s game with that of Malone. One even suggested the Sixer organization secure the services of Moses to mentor the newly arrrived Okafor. But there is the established fact that Brett Brown had a hand in bringing Tim Duncan along…

Despite this being the first chapter of Okafor’s career, I am eager to see it unfold. I think we’ve gotten a good one, perhaps one of the best of this draft.

Next: The Sixers Missing Link