Moses Malone, whose aggressive play led the Philadelphia 76ers to their first NBA championship in 16 years in a devastating four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers, was named the league's most valuable player today.
Malone also won the award in 1979 and 1982 and joins three other of the game's most dominant centers, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as the only players to win the trophy in two straight years.
Malone did not appear at the awards ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. His coach, Billy Cunningham, said, "Moses heard there was a three-on-three game in Tampa, so, well, you know Moses."
Malone led the league in rebounding with 15.3 per game, was fifth in scoring with a 24.5 average and, in general, more than justified owner Harold Katz's decision to draw him away from the Houston Rockets with a $2.1 million per year salary.
Malone, who drew 69 of the 75 first-place ballots for the MVP award, placed ahead of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Sidney Moncrief, respectively.
Jeff Ruland, Bullets center, was 121st in the balloting.
Also receiving awards were Milwaukee Bucks' Don Nelson as coach of the year; San Diego Clippers forward Terry Cummings, rookie of the year, and New York Knicks guard Paul Westphal, comeback player of the year.
Cummings, a standout at De Paul, missed the last seven games of the NBA season because of an irregular heart beat, but said he had been told he would be healthy and ready for next season.
Cunningham said he has still not decided whether he will return to coach the 76ers next year.
Philadelpia forward Julius Erving said, "Billy still hasn't told me or anyone else I know of a thing about his plans. We'll just have to wait."
The league tendered two new awards this year: the sixth man award going to Philadelphia's forward Bobby Jones and the defensive player of the year award to Moncrief.
Zollie Volchok, who is retiring this year as the general manager of the Seattle Supersonics, won the executive of the year award.
Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics signed New York Knicks center Marvin Webster and forward Sly Williams to offer sheets.
There was speculation the signings were in retaliation for the Knicks' growing interest in acquiring Boston's sixth man Kevin McHale, for a reported $3.5 million.