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Today in Philly Sports History: Big Mo Returns to Philly, 1986

Feb 25, 2009, 9:00 AM EDT

Moses Bullets The first step towards the total dismantling of the 1983 Championship 76ers team came when Moses Malone was traded to the Bullets in a deal for the younger and less expensive big man Jeff Ruland, a deal widely seen as one of the most disastrous in the city's history. (The franchise's history with big men in general–checkered, to say the least). Malone averaged 24 and 11 for the Bullets the next season, while Jeff Ruland averaged nine and six in just five games–the only games he would play for the next half a decade.

Big Mo no doubt had something to prove to Philly upon his return there on Christmas Day, 1986. Malone went off for 28 points and 21 rebounds–a staggering eleven of them on the offensive end–and threw in three steals and five blocks for good measure, while keeping Sixers center Tim McCormick to 11 points. The Bullets ended up taking the game by a score of 102-97.

Though Moses had some good years throughout the rest of his career in Washington, Atlanta and (to a lesser extent) Milwaukee, his days of playing for championships were long over. Mo made the playoffs four times after leaving the Sixers, and each time his team lost in the first round. The Sixers went on to slightly greater success with Charles Barkley at the forefront, but still didn't make it back to the finals until two decades later. This was one trade that it's pretty clear that just about all involved would rather have a do-over on.