With the sad passing of NBA and 76ers great Moses Malone, that means three former 76ers centers have died in the last year — all at relatively young ages. In 2014 fan favorite and great team player Caldwell Jones died of a heart attack at 64. Legendary showman, dunker and 7-foot out-of-high-school phenom Darryl Dawkins, who played center for the 76ers for years, died at 58 just weeks before Malone. Fans of the team can’t help but say a little prayer for Malone’s two championship backups, Clemon Johnson and Earl Cureton — both fortunately in good health.
Lately it seems that being a former 76ers center is a bit like being a keyboard player for the Grateful Dead. The renowned rock band lost four keyboardists to untimely deaths at young ages. Rob “Pigpen” McKernan, Keith Godchaux, Brent Mydland and Vince Welnick all played keyboards for the Dead — and the band outlasted all of them. The talented musicians were 27, 32, 37, and 55 respectively when they died.