Moses Malone Rumors
Both members of that starting backcourt — Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge — suffered heart attacks. Ainge had his at age 50 and survived; DJ, at age 52, did not. Add Kevin McHale’s now permanently impaired foot and Bird’s and Walton’s struggles, and the nucleus of one of the greatest teams of all time is, 30 years later, deeply damaged goods.’ Bird, who turned 59 in December, says more research is clearly needed. “I have my own philosophies on that,” Bird says. “Guys that played the hardest in the league — big guys who ran their asses off — they are the ones in the most danger, I feel. Moses was one of those competitors. We build our hearts up when we are playing and then we quit performing at a high level, and our hearts just sit there. I don’t work out like I used to. I can’t. I can’t go out and run. I jog and have a little sauna, that’s about it. My body won’t let me do more than that.”
Grant Park has long been a home to some of the best basketball in the city of Atlanta. In the 1970s and 1980s, Atlanta became a top destination for pros looking for offseason action, and the Grant Park asphalt was one of the hottest courts in the city. Hawks players like Lou Hudson, John Drew, Dominique Wilkins, Kevin Willis and Moses Malone kept their skills sharp running pickup games against amateurs and local icons.
As painful as all that’s been, a series of personal losses has brought Brown even greater pain. The most recent came last week when 87-year-old Dolph Schayes, who Brown grew up admiring as kid, passed away Thursday, followed by John “Hot Rod” Williams the following day. When you factor those in, along with the recent deaths of Darryl Dawkins, Moses Malone and Mel Daniels along with former North Carolina coaches Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge, no wonder he’s devastated. “I coached against Moses in the ABA,” recalled Brown, who also had some things to say about the state of the NBA franchise where he lasted the longest, the Philadelphia 76ers. “I think I coached his first ABA game. I gave Moses a hug the night before he passed away. I was being interviewed and he came by. I was kidding him and asked him if he had any eligibility.” Brown and Daniels also had a close relationship. “When I coached at Indiana he was a huge, huge asset for me,” Brown said. “I saw Mel’s wife at the Hall of Fame this year. I didn’t realize he was struggling.”
About 25 retired NBA players showed up for the screenings, which included heart testing. The NBPA initiated talks on the screenings at their July meetings, and the effort was given added urgency with the heart-related deaths of Moses Malone and Darryl Dawkins. In a conference room provided by the Houston Rockets, physicians met with the retired players to discuss their medical history, test blood pressure, administer EKGs to check the heart’s electrical activity, perform an echocardiogram to check the structure of the heart, scan carotids to look for plaque buildup in the arteries, check for sleep apnea and draw blood. The retired players also received attachments for their cellphones that can perform EKGs and send the results to cardiologists.
Across town, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts mourned the player she celebrated as a young basketball fan growing up in the Bronx. “When I heard about Darryl, I thought, ‘That’s not supposed to happen,’ Roberts said. “It’s too soon.” Seventeen days later, Moses Malone, who had spent the weekend enjoying the annual Hall of Fame festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts, was found dead in a hotel room in Norfolk, Virginia. Those close to Malone say the 60-year-old exercised regularly after his NBA career and eschewed drugs and alcohol. An autopsy concluded the cause of death was coronary artery disease.