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There were plenty of reasons for Moses Malone to join the ABA right out of high school. Unlike the NBA, it was a league that had no rules when it came to bringing in players straight from high school. Malone wasn’t cut out for college academically. He had the talent and size to head right into the pros.

And then there was his mother. A hard-working woman who struggled to feed the family. When Malone inked his first deal with the Utah Stars of the ABA, Mom was specifically worked into the contract.

Moses Malone is one of the most underrated NBA players in history

Moses Malone certainly got his share of props. He’s a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He’s also a member of the NBA’s top 75 players in history. Despite the accolades, Malone is still vastly underrated.

When it comes to all-time NBA centers, Malone typically doesn’t crack the top five on most lists. Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon probably come to mind first when ranking the NBA’s best big men.

While Malone may not have had the flair of Chamberlain nor the championship success of Russell, nobody was better than Malone at cleaning up the offensive glass — and it’s not even close.

Not counting his numbers from the ABA, Malone finished his pro career with 6,731 offensive rebounds. That total is a staggering 2,133 more than former Boston Celtics center Robert Parish, who is second on the list with 4,598. If you want to combine Malone’s ABA and NBA offensive rebounds, the total is 7,382. Second place on the NBA/ABA combined list is Artis Gilmore with 4,816.

After two seasons in the ABA, Malone made his way into the NBA, making a name for himself with the Houston Rockets. He was named MVP of the league in 1979 and then guided them to a berth in the NBA Finals in 1981. He then won his second MVP in 1982 and added another the following season in his first year with the Philadelphia 76ers. Malone also led the Sixers to a championship in that 1982-83 season.

Malone made sure his mother was taken care of in his contract


Off the Court, Moses Malone Was Far Different From the Player He Was On It

School wasn’t in Malone’s plans. Basketball was what he wanted to do. The Utah Stars selected Malone in the third round of the 1974 ABA Draft, and he became the first high school player to go right to the pros.

Malone’s deal was for $565,000 to be paid out over four years. In the contract, Malone mother was mentioned several times.

Terry Pluto’s book Loose Balls provided an up-close look at Malone’s first professional contract. Here are a few of the contract stipulations:

  • During the length of the agreement, the club agrees to pay the mother of the player $500 a month.
  • The club shall provide a housing allowance for the mother of the player up to a total of $25,000, to be paid out at $335 a month during the length of the agreement. If the contract expires before the full $25,000 is paid, the club may either continue making monthly payments or settle the difference in a lump sum.
  • The player will receive a $40,000 signing bonus.
  • The mother of the player will receive $10,000 upon the signing of the contract.

The list went on regarding statistical incentives for Malone. While he earned a great deal of extra cash after averaging 18.8 points and 14.6 rebounds per game as a rookie, his mother did pretty well herself.