Center Moses Malone of the Houston Rockets has been named most valuable player in the NBA, easily outdistancing San Antonio's George Gervin and Washington's Elvin Hayes in voting by the players.

Malone, who led the league in rebounding (17.6) and was the starting center on the East team in the All-Star Game, picked up 112 votes to 35 for Gervin, the No. 1 scorer, and 25 for Hayes, who enjoyed perhaps his best all-round season as a member of the defending NPA champs.

Hayes' teammate, Bob Dandridge, was fifth with seven votes.

Although Hayes thought he played well enough to earn MVP plaudits this year, he said yesterday he never expected to win the award.

"I used the MVP as an incentive to push myself this season," he said. "You have to have something to really motivate yourself after winning a title.

"I knew I wouldn't get it. They'd never vote me the award, but no matter. I was CBS' most valuable player, which was nice. I've earned a lot of individual awards already. I've led the league in rebounding and scoring, but it never won me a championship.

"I'm happy for Moses. He can win all the MVPs he wants, as long as he has an early summer vacation every year and I'm in the battle for the league title.

"Both Bobby and I played well enough to win the award; we know that. It just shows you that a lot of players who are on vacation right now don't know what takes to win.

"If I was still with Houston, I'd probably be leading the league in rebounding or scoring and not winning any titles. Here, I've learned to blend my individual talents within a team concept. You can't win by yourself, I've learned that.

"I learned a long time ago to forget my personal goals. The championship ring means more to me. I want a second one. The first one was good, and I want more. The MVP can take care of itself."

This was Malone's fifth pro season. He broke his league record for offensive rebounds, pulling in 587 while averaging 24.8 points. CAPTION: Picture, Elvin Hayes tells Larry Wright he has free throws coming with time expired in Game 1 against Sonics. By Richard Darcey-The Washington Post