Archives For Karl Malone
So many things to love in this clip of Karl Malone demonstrating the pick and roll on the NBA TV set recently.
It’s all great, but I especially enjoyed his point of emphasis to “make sure Ostertag is out of the way.” Other great lines:
“If he’s not going to put any pressure on me, I’ll slip that all day long–and I mean all day long.”
“I didn’t try to catch the ball all the time; I just wanted to knock it down.”
Karl even names names:
“The pick and roll is designed to put pressure on people who didn’t want to [defend] it. Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, the absolute worst big men to ever play the pick and roll. We loved it coming down the stretch, because we knew they didn’t want to play it.”
Malone’s eyes are also like dinner plates at the end when Sam Mitchell is explaining how he would guard Karl in the post. It’s all Malone can do to resist saying “That’s what you’d do??? No wonder I scored a million points on you.”
The incomparable @monilogue has done the heavy lifting and created an annotated timeline documenting the embarrassing path that led us to the point that Karl Malone and a Miller are fighting like it’s 1992.
Read Moni’s story and then come back and let’s talk.
The most important point in all this is that the Karl Malone interview happened a week ago. Everyone following the team seemed to react to Malone’s entertaining radio show in similar fashion: That it was Karl being Karl. He made some over-the-top comments, he named a few names, he used some signature malapropisms, and basically flamed the Jazz organization for the entirety of the four-hour show.
The story would have probably remained just a he-said/he-said thing had the ensuing write-ups not included possible misinterpretations of Malone’s description of buying tickets from scalpers to the Jazz game after Jerry Sloan’s retirement.
As Moni noted:
The part about the Jazz telling Karl Malone there were no tickets available was not broadcast in the interview, so either Karl told Monson and Rock that off-air, or Monson and Rock misinterpreted what Karl said. What Karl did say on-air was that he got his tickets to the game from a scalper, and called it a “miscommunication” with the Jazz. Direct quote from him on that night (February 12, 2011):
“I got my own tickets, the Jazz was gracious enough to let me park in the back, I appreciate that, and I’m gonna sit here and watch this game and enjoy the game.”
Obviously, the scalper story was red meat for anyone picking up the story. Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports took the opportunity to offer a paternalistic lecture to the Jazz organization. Dwyer would be right, of course, if things had actually transpired as reported.
It doesn’t matter now that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, because Greg Miller’s reaction to the story going big nationally was beyond unhelpful:
The Open Tweet to a man who doesn’t use Twitter is the very definition of using the media to fight a battle. As soon as Miller’s tweet hit, the Jazz universe seemed to explode. But somehow Miller wasn’t finished. He took to his blog and dropped 1,373 words responding to the “derogatory” comments from Malone.
As I said last night, in some ways everything feels right in the world when Karl Malone and a Miller are feuding, but there’s nothing good that can come from all this nonsense. Well, there’s one good thing. Former Trib beat writer Ross Siler launched a spectacular Twitter reaction of his own. It’s best read all together:
Excellent work by Siler, but the real story is just depressing. It’s a classic Sophoclean tragedy. With the Lakers in town tonight, the circus atmosphere at the arena is going to be turned up to 11. Here’s hoping all this nonsense doesn’t derail an otherwise very exciting season.
I hope all of you were awake last night for the spectacular shared experience of listening to the latest Karl Malone dispatch from the field. To recap, ESPN700‘s Bill and Spence show were able to track down Malone via phone while he dodged a tornado on a lake in Louisiana. Listen here (that’s a direct link to the mp3 file). If you haven’t already, seriously, do it now.
There’s praise for Paul Millsap, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love. But most of all, Malone does what Malone does best, delivering a passionate 32-minute rambling rant that bends every convention of grammar, diction, logic, and history, while also providing a counter-intuitive voice of reason amid the company lines coming from the Jazz front office. His parentheticals combine with his malapropisms in an elixir of awesome that made no sense and yet still left me more excited about Jazz basketball than I have been in a long time.
Nothing new was revealed, other than some bizarre home-spun aphorisms that would make Jerry Sloan jealous. At the 8:32 mark, in a wandering escape from a blistering critique of Deron Williams which turned into praise for Sloan, we learn that if he (Sloan) told Malone “fleas could fly, I’d hitch ‘em up.” We would too, Karl. We would too.
After a question about whether Jazz fans and the Salt Lake community deserve more from their star players than they may have been getting from Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, Malone gave us his finest moment. “Back in the day I wore something with Jazz on it every time I left the house unless it was some unbelievable function.” Hopefully we haven’t seen the last “Unbelievable function” featuring Malone on a regular basis in SLC.
It was everything we ever loved about Karl Malone. All heart. It’s also the blueprint for future success for the Jazz. The fans will forgive all shortcomings when the heart is there.
This is the first in a series of short stories highlighting the good parts of being a member of a rabid fan base in a small market.
My dad loves basketball. Loves it. So when my parents moved to Utah in 1981, he made a plan to get Jazz season tickets. In 1983 he got his wish and he had his tickets. Because my mom wasn’t as much of a sports fan, part of the spousal negotiation of buying these tickets was the agreement that he was going to take the kids with him as often as possible for some dad time. The only problem: His four kids were 7, 5, 3 (yours truly), and 1. Anyone that has wrestled a small kid in a grocery aisle knows that these are not ideal ages for attending professional basketball games. If anything testifies of my dad’s undying allegiance to this game and team, it’s the early years as a Jazz season ticket holder. There were multiple times where he paid good money to have his kids either A) fall asleep halfway through a game or B) read a book through the third quarter. I can’t believe he suffered through it. The investment paid off, however, and he now has eight kids that love the Utah Jazz. Gone are the days of him trying to talk a small child out of a Disney video at home and into a basketball game; now there are fights for those seats.
By the time I was eight in 1988, I was a full fledged Jazz fan. I knew and loved the franchise. This was small market Salt Lake, and we felt like this was our team! These were our boys! But being a smaller market meant that the team had to do more things to gain public interest. As a result, they used to hold events where season ticket holders could go to the arena early, wait in line, and meet random members of the team. On one such night, my older brother Scott and I were thrilled when my dad asked if we would attend a fan appreciation night with him. Scott had just gotten a small yellow, green, and purple basketball for his birthday that he would get signed, and we could each get a picture with one of our basketball heroes.
The night came, and we drove to the Salt Palace early. We stood in line with the other season ticket holders, anxiously anticipating our chance to get placed with players. The odds of getting a good player were slim, though, because you could be paired with anyone on the roster. Scott and I stood there in line, excitedly talking about which players we would like to be paired with (Please, oh, please bring on Stockton or Malone!). As we approached the front of the line, my brother nervously gave me his basketball. He explained that my luck was much better than his, and I would most likely get put with one of the great Jazz players. It was flawless 10 year old logic and it made sense . . . I mean, I did have good luck! I took the ball and remember being excited to get it signed for him. John Stockton, here I come!
Minutes later we were at the front of the line, and the attendants separated me from my brother. We were taken in opposite directions, and were led off to various points in the gym where basketball players and Polaroid cameras were waiting. I remember passing player after player–Darryl Griffith, John Stockton, Mark Eaton–until finally I ended here:
Jeff will be a regular contributor on Salt City Hoops. Follow him on Twitter!
Karl Malone was gracious and humble as he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame this weekend. His incredible accomplishments over a long NBA career are well documented and as John Stockton mentioned, they seem even more incredible as the years pass by.
It seemed strange, then, to follow the jokes and put-downs that showed up during the ceremony on Twitter and in the comments sections of most of the stories. Clearly Malone’s past mistakes are not forgiven by many. On the basketball side, many people seem to remember Malone as someone who would carry a team to the playoffs, and then disappoint. Few took the time to give him credit for carrying assorted rosters of cast-offs and has-beens deep in the playoffs. Pau Gasol couldn’t even win a single playoff game when he was the alpha dog in Memphis. Unfortunately for Malone, his basketball epitaph for many will be the two missed free throws in Game 1 of the 1997 Finals and the infamous turnover right before Jordan’s game winning (offensive foul) shot in the 1998 Finals.
We have had plenty of time since Malone retired to forget a lot of games and maybe our memory has failed in us. Have we been unfair to Malone? Is he the best power forward of all time? Maybe we remember the bad. So let’s beat this dead horse: Here is the case for and against Karl Malone as the best power forward of all time:
The case for Karl Malone as the best power forward of all time:
When you look at Karl Malone’s stats compared to Tim Duncan it is hard to make the case that Duncan is a better player that Malone. Why? Because it is hard to make the case that many players are better than Karl Malone by looking at the stats. He is 2nd all time in career points and 3rd all time in win shares (an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player) with more win shares than everyone but Kareem and Wilt. Tim Duncan would need 6 more years of his average production to equal Malone. As it currently stands he is still isn’t within shouting distance of the Mailman. However, any Duncan supporter might bring up the fact that of course Malone’s career numbers would be better because he played 19 seasons. If we take that away and just compare averages here are some points in favor of Malone:
- Scoring: Malone averaged 25 points per game. Duncan 21.1.
- Efficiency: Malone shot 51.6% from the floor and 74.2% from the line. Duncan’s respective numbers; 50.8% and 68.7%.
- Reliability: Malone’s work ethic and incredible conditioning was legendary and that shows in the numbers. He played in 99.3% of the Jazz possible games during his 18 year career in Utah . Duncan so far with San Antonio has only played in 94.5% of the possible games. Over an 82 game NBA season that means that Malone would play in about 4 more games than Duncan.
- Longevity: The same conditioning led him to be able to play for so long at such a high level. Not to say that Duncan can’t do that, but let’s see if he is still playing as effectively as Malone was when he was 39 and still contributed 11.1 wins (10th in the league) to the 2002-2003 Jazz team.
- Front line help – Sure this is a little subjective, but I think that playing with the Greg Ostertags and Felton Spencers of the world didn’t help Malone quite as much as playing along side David Robinson helped Duncan.
The case for Tim Duncan as the best power forward of all time:
Even the most pro-Duncan fan has to respect and take note of points made above in terms of strong regular season production over a long period of time. However, those battles aren’t something that even really interest Duncan fans since they have the following points in their favor:
- NBA Titles: 4 > 0. While basketball is a team game it is common practice to assign more credit to individual players who help the team win. Duncan ’s teams have won in the playoffs and he has received his share of praise for those accomplishments.
- Playoff Stats: This is where Malone fans might wish the stats contradicted common viewpoints, but unfortunately they don’t. This is where the questions above about how maybe our memory has failed in us in remembering Malone’s playoff performance get answered. Unfortunately for Jazz fans the answers aren’t good and they are the main reason why I think someone can make the case for Tim Duncan being the best power forward of all time. Malone’s numbers dropped across the board from the regular season to the playoffs. He shot considerably worse (from 51% to 46%) in the playoffs and his WS/48 minutes dropped from 0.205 to 0.14. Compare this with Duncan who had almost identical shooting percentages and WS/48 numbers. One thing to consider is that Duncan has more Win Shares (28.6 compared to 23) in the playoffs despite playing in 23 fewer games. Those are just a few stats that I researched, but they all paint a very similar picture. Just like it is hard to make the case that Duncan was better than Malone in the regular season, it is also look like it is hard to make the case that Malone was better than Duncan in the playoffs.
Those are the arguments for both sides. As a Jazz fan I tend to side with Malone. While the playoff stats was something that was tough to digest (again since I had to live though it the first time) it still doesn’t completely overshadow Malone’s incredible career.
I would like to congratulate Karl Malone for his induction to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. You are the greatest power forward of all time in this biased Jazz fan’s mind.
By Jefferson W. Boswell
Special to Salt City Hoops
Many NBA players engage in a ritual when they step up to the charity stripe. Jason Kidd, for example, used to blow a kiss to his wife and kids (since a nasty divorce, his routine has obviously changed a little). We all remember Jeff Hornacek wiping the side of his face – his own tribute to his family. But then there was the Mailman. He would dribble the ball a couple times, spin it in his hands, and then mutter a few words. With a gentle push and a mild arc, the cowhide globe would hit home – at career rate of just under 75%, (to amalgamate Hot Rod and David Locke). No one really knew what he was saying up there….except for my Grandma.
In the late 1990′s, the Mailman was at the peak of his career. Two MVP awards, two NBA finals appearances, All-NBA, All-Defensive, All- Everything. My Grandma, on the other hand, was in the twilight of her life. She had been a widow for a decade. Although she could hardly see, she would park herself in her recliner, only feet away from her big screen television, and cheer for the Jazz with all of her might. Unlike her beloved Jazz, there was no off-season for her to take a vacation from the countless doctor’s visits and endless prescriptions.
As so often happens for those fortunate to live as long as she did, she lost her balance, fell, and broke her hip. After surgery and a long recovery, she was instructed to undergo physical therapy. During a particularly brutal session of physical therapy, she was resting in her wheelchair – when in walks none other than the Mailman – Karl Malone in the flesh. Just seeing him caused her heart to skip a beat (dangerous for a woman in her 80s).
The therapist said, “Come meet one of your biggest fans, Karl.”
I can almost see my Grandma nearly fall out of her wheelchair and melt like a Popsicle. After introductions and exchanging pleasantries, my Grandma, Alene Boswell, asked the question that had captivated Utah for a decade.
“Karl, what exactly do you say when you are up there taking your foul shots?”
With a smile and a wink, he said, “I’m talking to you up there, Alene. I say, ‘Come on now, Alene, don’t let me down.’”
Even though her health deteriorated and she eventually lost most of her memories, that story was never far from her lips. She passed away on Mother’s Day in 2000 (and never had to see her beloved Mailman in a Lakers jersey).
Karl Malone recently told KSL’s Rod Zundel, when asked if he’d have changed anything in his career, that he wished he would have “done more in the community.” From my perspective, you did just fine, Karl. Congratulations on entering the Basketball Hall of Fame this week. You’ve been in the humanity Hall of Fame for a while now.
Jefferson Boswell will be a regular contributor to Salt City Hoops. He can be reached at jeffersonboz [at ] gmail [dot] com