(Reuters) - Basketball legend Moses Malone, a three-time most valuable player for the National Basketball Association, died early Sunday in Virgnia at age 60, authorities said.
Malone was found unresponsive Sunday in the Norfolk Waterside Marriott hotel in Norfolk, Va., according to a statement from Norfolk police. He was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later, police said.
The cause of his death has not been determined, police said. League officials declined to comment further.
Malone was in Norfolk for a charity golf event planned for Sunday.
Malone spent much of his professional career with the Houston Rockets and the Philadelphia 76ers, according to his biography on the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Nicknamed the “Chairman of the Boards,” he averaged more than 20 points per game for eleven straight seasons and was named the NBA’s most valuable player in 1979, 1982, 1983, the biography said.
“Even more than his prodigious talent, we will miss his friendship, his generosity, his exuberant personality, and the extraordinary work ethic he brought to the game throughout his 21-year pro career,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.
The 76ers expressed grief for their former player in a statement on Sunday.
“It is difficult to express what his contributions to this organization - both as a friend and player - have meant to us, the city of Philadelphia and his faithful fans,” the statement said.
Malone was born in 1955 in Petersburg, Virginia. The six- foot, 10-inch (2.1 meters) player was one of the first in the modern game to go straight from high school to playing professionally, according to the league.
Malone was named to the NBA’s 50 greatest player list when it was compiled in the mid 1990s, it noted.
When he retired in 1995, Malone was one of the league’s top scorers and rebounders, having made more free throws than any other player, according to his hall of fame biography.
He helped to lead Philadelphia to a championship in 1983.
“Moses holds a special place in our hearts and will forever be remembered as a genuine icon and pillar of the most storied era in the history of Philadelphia 76ers basketball,” the team said in a statement posted on its website.
Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Fla. and Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and William Hardy