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Early Sunday morning, basketball fans collectively mourned the passing of Moses Malone. We all know the former MVP as one of the greatest players of the 20th century, with accomplishments that far exceed the majority of players both of his generation and the current one.

But for those who were privileged to experience the man personally, he was far more than just a walking double-double. My interaction with Moses, though brief, certainly warrants a story. I’d like to honor his legacy by sharing this narrative that until now, was only known by a close circle of friends. That account, which was revisited today, actually played out like this:

“I’m pimpin’, young blood…I’m pimpin’.” That was the text I received this morning after the deeply saddening news broke. My good friend who sent it was referencing to more of a shared experience as opposed to an inside joke. This tracks back to August 2010 and his bachelor party in Las Vegas. There, unexpectedly, we had a chance encounter with former NBA great, Moses Malone.

We were staying at the Aria Hotel & Casino, which at the time was newly opened and less than a year old. But in our erratic behavior that Saturday night, we hopped a cab and ventured across town to the Palms. Aside from hopes to play basketball in the Real World suite, there were a few clubs there that we wanted to experience. And we did. But before venturing back to the Aria, I stumbled to the bathroom for a pitstop.

Upon entering the lavatory, I noticed a huddle of men surrounding another. Initially I thought this is odd, but considering it was Vegas, I just assumed someone “famous” was in the midst. And there was — Moses Malone.

He stood every bit of 6 ’10” and maneuvered like an ex-ball player removed for lingering injuries. Engaging and charismatic in a very strange and intimate place to do so, I thought to approach him upon his exit. I did.

Just for kicks I asked, “Moses, can I get your autograph?” Already engaging his audience with jokes and corky behavior he replied, “I can’t. I’m pimpin’, young blood…I’m pimpin’.” We all laughed in his clear intentions to entertain as he made his way back onto the casino floor. It’s been a running joke since, and like Moses, never seemed to get old.

At the age of 60, Moses Malone, three-time NBA MVP and among the 50 greatest players of all time, passed away in his home state of Virginia. Often referred to as the “Chairman of the Boards,” Moses was a career 20 point scorer that also maintained a double-double throughout his entire career, averaging 12 rebounds per contest.

Moses was a Nike athlete through much of his 21-year NBA tenure. His presence was a fixture in Swoosh campaigns while he often donned the Nike Dynasty High and Nike Air Force I and II on court. An NBA Hall of Fame inductee in 2001, Malone revolutionized his position and made way for the likes of Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Chris Webber and others.

Although brief, I’ll always remember that one time I met Moses Malone in Las Vegas. He was every bit the man in those Hardwood Classics clips and far from a ghost of NBA past. Moses, though gone far too soon, leaves a legacy that extends far beyond his imposing presence on the court. Thankfully he was here long enough for us to experience it.

Image: Getty

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