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More than three decades later, Driesell, retired at 76 and living in Virginia Beach, tends to laugh - sort of - at the Malone affair.

“Moses and I are good friends. I talk to him often, and he’s spoken at my basketball camp,” Lefty said. “He’s a great guy.”

Malone, now 53, has worked in recent years as an assistant coach and consultant for the Philadelphia 76ers, one of nine pro teams for which he played while averaging 20.3 points and 12.3 rebounds for his career.

He was the NBA’s MVP in 1979, 1982 and 1983. A publicly taciturn man, Malone uttered his most famous quote when asked in 1983 how many games the Sixers would require to win each of three playoff series.

“Fo’, fo’ and fo’,” Moses replied in his down-home Virginia drawl, and he didn’t miss by much. The 76ers dispatched Boston in four games, Milwaukee in five and the Los Angeles Lakers in four en route to their only NBA championship.

Malone is one of only three players to average 20 points and 10 rebounds a season with three teams (Shaquille O’Neal and Wilt Chamberlain are the others).

He did not foul out in his final 1,212 games, a record, despite his punishing style around the basket. He was named to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001. And when he retired in 1995 at 40, he was the last survivor of the ABA, and its old red, white and blue ball.

Yet the most agonizing distinction for Maryland fans is that Moses Malone was the first player to jump directly from high school to the pros.

“Hey, look at the U.S. basketball team in the Olympics - Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight [Howard] never played college ball,” Driesell said. “Moses paved the way. I’m happy for him.”

That’s known as being a good loser.