Charles Barkley says goodbye to Moses Malone: 'Every time I saw him, I called him Dad'

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Moses Malone (left) and former Suns coach Jerry Colangelo (center) presented Charles Barkley for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. (AP/Stephan Savoia)
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  • Moses Malone
    Moses Malone
    American basketball player
  • Charles Barkley
    Charles Barkley
    American basketball player

The death of Hall of Famer and three-time NBA Most Valuable Player Moses Malone on Sunday at age 60 sent shockwaves through the basketball world, eliciting condolences and fond farewells from players, coaches, fans and journalists alike. One of the more touching remembrances came from fellow Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, who spent the first two seasons of his professional career as Malone's teammate on the Philadelphia 76ers, and who has long credited Malone's guidance and veteran leadership as one of the primary factors in his development into one of the greatest players in NBA history.

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Barkley, now an analyst and commentator for Turner Sports, issued a statement on Malone's passing on Sunday:

"The man I called 'Dad' passed today. Words can't explain my sadness. I will never know why a Hall of Famer took a fat, lazy kid from Auburn and treated him like a son and got him in shape and made him a player.

Every time I saw him I called him 'Dad.' I hope he knew how much I appreciated and loved him."

Barkley has never made any secret about his reverence for Malone and his appreciation for the impact that the legendary center had on him, calling him "far and away the most influential person in my NBA career." He credited Moses for teaching him not only the finer points of interior play at the NBA level, but also the importance of professionalism, refusing to rely solely on pure natural talent and getting in better shape to be the best player he could be:

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Barkley made a very public proclamation of that gratitude at his 2006 induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, where Malone — himself a member of the Class of 2001 — presented his former teammate for enshrinement:

Barkley has felt compelled over the years to sing Malone's praises in part because his mentor wasn't inclined to sing his own, as Charles told ESPN.com's Jackie MacMullan:

"He never said anything about what he did for me," Barkley said. "Most guys, when they mentor a young player like that, they go around saying, 'Yeah, that was me. I did that.' Not Moses. He never told anybody. And that was the best part."

Once Malone retired, whenever Barkley saw his old teammate, which was a handful of times a season, he always greeted him in the same manner: "Hey, Dad!"

"I saw him Friday night at the Hall of Fame," Barkley said. "I thanked him again for making me the player I became, like I always do."

Moses Malone died Sunday, two days after Barkley embraced him warmly and promised, "I'll see you soon."

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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