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Shared Legacy: The 76ers Darryl Dawkins and Moses Malone


The Philadelphia 76ers have lost two of their great centers of all-time in the past month. Darryl Dawkins and Moses Malone were both impact players and strong personalities. They are now both gone, but not forgotten. Both big men, both physically imposing, both Sixers, and both too young. Dawkins was only 58 and Malone was 60 years of age.

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Rod Thorn once remarked that Hall of Famer Moses Malone was the game’s greatest offensive rebounder – ever.

Dawkins was a funny and quotable athlete as well as an overwhelmingly powerful dunker.

We will of course remember Malone for the incredible 12-1 playoff and championship run of 1983 and Dawkins for the 1977 run up to the finals and his subsequent shattering of backboards.

Obviously both of these gentle giants had an ability to play basketball. There was however much more to these Sixers. It was seen in their ability to connect  positively with others off the court.

George Kondoleon wrote of Dawkins:

"“You were loved everywhere you went, and for good reason. The way you represented yourself as such a warm and approachable person, made me want to meet more people like you. The problem is, Darryl, there is no one like you. And there never will be anyone like you. There will never be the former NBA stud who would help a 16 year old in a high school gym. You were simply a terrific human being. With all the battles you had to go through in your basketball career, you never let it affect your personality or view on life.”"

Moses had similar impacts on Sixer greats “Mo” Cheeks and Charles Barkley. Maurice Cheeks used to comment on how quiet and clever Moses was and how Malone allowed people to believe in a perceived weakness, only to devour them. Charles Barkley, devastated by the passing called Moses, “Dad.”

Dave Zirin has written that Dawkins and Malone had an impact on younger players and how they managed to touch the lives of players trying to develop and find their way in the NBA. He pointed out one additional connection – both refused to be exploited by the NCAA.

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Both Malone and Dawkins did not play college basketball and it caused an outrage. So much that we would not see a similar trend again until the emergence of Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant.

Both centers came from the rural south and shared a worldview that was very complicated, very sophisticated, very worldly, and very real. This was probably not appreciated while they were playing and surely some harbored resentful and prejudicial attitudes towards both players that skipped college for real life circumstances.

As the young Sixers attempt to blossom even further this season, while likely wearing a 2/53 patch, hopefully they also uphold the greatest of Dawkins’s and Malone’s virtues: concern and care for others and playing for keeps.

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