FanDuel - WFBC

February 14, 2005

This Mailman no longers delivers: Karl Malone has decided to call it quits after considering one more run with the San Antonio Spurs. What's your favorite memory of the Mailman, and where does he rank in the annals of the NBA?

posted by wfrazerjr to basketball at 09:44 AM - 30 comments

The thing I remember most about Karl Malone is the flying elbow he gave to Isiah Thomas after Isiah lit John Stockton up for 45 points in their previous matchup, which was Isiah's response to Stockton getting the Dream Team nod ahead of him. Still won't forgive Malone for that...

posted by MeatSaber at 10:44 AM on February 14

I'll remember Karl as the master of the crunch time brick. I hope he'll be happy now that he can hunt little Mexican girls full time.

posted by dzot at 11:59 AM on February 14

Favorite memory: When Jordan stole the ball from him and then scored on Bryon Russell to win the title. Never really could get excited about Karl. I think a lot of people had trouble really identifying with him. Did you ever hear of very many Malone fans outside of Utah? Did you ever see Malone Jersey's on the street? Karl did a few endorsement deals, but nothing in-line with his scoring prowess on the court. I'm not sure what the reason for that is. Maybe Karl was just too bland to capture the attention of the mass market. Or maybe Karl just preferred to play it low-key. Where does he rank? Can't take away his scoring totals. I know he was listed in the top-50 all time. If there were a fantasy draft of all players all-time, Karl would proably fall somewhere around my 25th pick. He was good, he was a power forward ahead of his time, but he's not in my top 10, or even 20.

posted by mayerkyl at 12:24 PM on February 14

And even in Utah they don't like him much anymore- they took his name off the Stockton-Malone car dealerships. Odd that someone who was so good for so long, and who wasn't, say, Ty Cobb, could be so disliked, or at best, have so few people who can think of any positive memories around him.

posted by tieguy at 12:30 PM on February 14

Can't take away his scoring totals. Maybe not, but I'll try: Malone's greatest basketball skill was his physical condition. How many of his points came strictly off of busting his ass down the floor faster than anyone else and laying in a perfect pass from Stockton? No other "great" ever got so many easy baskets. I don't even think he makes my top 5 PFs of all time.

posted by smithers at 01:14 PM on February 14

Finals, late nineties, Sunday afternoon, Malone at the free throw line. Scottie Pippen tells him, "Mailman don't deliver on Sundays."

posted by Philfromhavelock at 01:27 PM on February 14

I liked how he and Gary Payton were the only Lakers you could count on last year, until the knee injury. Malone's greatest basketball skill was his physical condition. How many of his points came strictly off of busting his ass down the floor faster than anyone else and laying in a perfect pass from Stockton? No other "great" ever got so many easy baskets. I don't even think he makes my top 5 PFs of all time. How is that a negative? He struck me as someone who worked extremely hard. His physical condition, the way he fixed his FT% problem, consistent hustle: all those are qualities that I admire. That doesn't mean I admire him, though. Why don't people connect with him? I think he's basically a dork... I mean, truck driving and pro wrestling? And he has a mean streak that has been documented extensively. His elbows have hurt a lot of people. I didn't see many of his earlier "work," but I was pissed off last season when he almost took out Steve Nash's front teeth.

posted by dusted at 02:05 PM on February 14

posted by dusted at 02:07 PM on February 14

I'm not saying that they are negatives at all. What I am saying is that by running really hard and putting in gift-wrapped layups, his career numbers get really inflated over what his pure basketball skills would otherwise have dictated. Mayerkyl was suggesting that the numbers couldn't be argued with, and I think this is a case where the numbers don't tell the whole story.

posted by smithers at 02:36 PM on February 14

Give me guys who's numbers are "inflated over what ... pure .... skills would otherwise have dictated" anytime. I'd rather have them long-term and on off-nights. Is he ever going to reveal what he was muttering during free throws?

posted by yerfatma at 02:53 PM on February 14

What I am saying is that by running really hard and putting in gift-wrapped layups, his career numbers get really inflated over what his pure basketball skills would otherwise have dictated. In light of the other thread about relative skill at the NBA level, I'd posit that these two aspects of his game would be on any short list of "pure basketball skills." So why does no one like him? No one's really answered that. Is it because he's essentially a grumpy redneck who played a chippy style and didn't knock himself out to get close to too many media types off the court? I guess that'd be enough, especially playing with Stockton all those years, who by comparison at least was witty and engaging. But the numbers, and the work ethic and the consistent amazing fitness level do (or at least should) count for something, I'd think.

posted by chicobangs at 02:55 PM on February 14

The trouble is, it's hard to name any PFs who bust their ass downcourt for a "gift-wrapped" layup nowadays. KG? Nope. C-Webb? Nope. Rasheed? Nope. Big Ben? Maybe. Amare Stoudemire. Yup. How many of these guys even cut all the way down the lane before the PG calls the play? You can't diminish Karl's achievements just because he played with another HOFer. Are Jerry West or Elgin Baylor any less worthy of the hall for having played together? Jordan & Pippen? Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, & Bill Bradley? Bird, McHale, & Parish? Magic, Kareem, & Worthy? I think the point is made. Karl was relentless, he went from coming into the league as nothing more than a behemoth who ran the floor in to a guy who could hit the 15 footer, shoot a respectable percentage from the FT line and defend. Karl is the prototypical PF. I hate saying it fellas, but he is. He sent the Lakers out to pasture quite a few times in the 90's, and I resented the man for it. But you have to give him his due.

posted by lilnemo at 02:56 PM on February 14

People hate Karl. It's reasonably easy to see why - he was hardly a media darling, generally a misanthrope and seems preoccupied with his own place in history. That aside, he was a tremendous player, who deserves more respect for his game than simply 'he ran the floor well'. If that gets you to number 2 all-time then a light just went on in the heads of 400 other players. I think Karl's greatest feat was how easy it looked to him - but the man had HANDS. Phenomenal, all-time hands.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:12 PM on February 14

How many of his points came strictly off of busting his ass down the floor faster than anyone else and laying in a perfect pass from Stockton? No other "great" ever got so many easy baskets. That's pretty much the opposite of "easy baskets". If he had been a great shooter busting from 30 ft. or if he could simply jump over people like jordan, now those would be easy baskets. I'm no malone fan, but I couldn't care less how he was off the court or with the media. He earned his paycheck (well, as much as an nba player can), something that seems to be vanishing in today's NBA.

posted by justgary at 05:58 PM on February 14

I've disliked Karl Malone for years and years but recently when he went to the lakers, I found some respect for him. Could have made more $$ elsewhere but chose the opportunity to win the title and when father time came calling knew when to bow out. I believe he could still play today as he keeps himself in great shape. So for all you naysayers out there give him some credit for not hanging on just for records and instead respect a guy who played hard, worked hard, and respected the game.

posted by bigwhisky at 07:59 PM on February 14

Well said, bigwhisky.

posted by dusted at 08:03 PM on February 14

When everyone is crying out for NBA players to actually bust their ass, amen for Karl for doing exactly that. I can't see how 'working hard to play the game' == 'inflated totals'. The game is about scoring points and winning, and he did both of those pretty damn well, better than some more talented guys who don't bother. In my book, that makes him a better player- certainly one I'd pick for my team, even if I didn't really like him much.

posted by tieguy at 08:23 PM on February 14

Being a Spurs fan,I never had a FOND memory of Malone,per se.I do remember he was vicious with the elbows,though.It just seems that the NBA world is a bit bizarre when guys like Malone and Barkley don't have a ring to show for all their years among the NBA elite,but a TOOL like Mark Madsen has two (or is it three?).Either way,a Mark Madsen championship ring would pull what?...50 bucks on EBAY?

posted by Elwood Blues at 12:58 AM on February 15

So why does no one like him? No one's really answered that. Is it because he's essentially a grumpy redneck who played a chippy style and didn't knock himself out to get close to too many media types off the court? Hell, that's why I admire the guy. Karl might not be the warmest fellow in the world, but I'm pretty sure what comes out of his mouth is the straight dope. He also busted his ass in every single game I ever watched him play, even on nights when the Jazz were whooping ass and his 100% effort wasn't needed.

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:28 AM on February 15

You know, Kareem's all-time scoring record was still probably in reach for him. He could have Emmitted himself out for another couple years, especially with a crappy team that would get him the ball a lot, and put his name at the very top of the ladder. The fact that he decided enough was enough is absolutely an act worthy of respect. I can't believe people are dissing him because he had the temerity to hustle at both ends of the court. I thought that was how the game was supposed to be played. I hope he makes the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. If he doesn't, that's spite talking, and nothing else.

posted by chicobangs at 08:59 AM on February 15

Oh he's a first-ballot hall of famer, that's not even a question.

posted by mayerkyl at 12:20 PM on February 15

Well, if he's made as many enemies as the last week's worth of press would have you believe, then it's far from a sure thing. I just hope saner heads will prevail.

posted by chicobangs at 02:26 PM on February 15

hes a great player but he knows he wanted stockton to stay with him for 2 r 3 more yrs. he knows he couldnt do it all without stockton.

posted by dhdefrag3x at 07:38 PM on February 15

He didn't do it all with Stockton either.

posted by yerfatma at 07:42 PM on February 15

Really all that anyone should need to say about Karl is, he earned 2 league MVP awards, 2 All-Star game MVP awards, (one shared w/Stockton), and 2 Gold Medals with enough class to actually show up and play for Team USA. Truth is though, like him or hate him you can't just say these things, since at age 40 he was still better than most that have ever played in the NBA. Consider this, the best player ever to have played BB, Magic Johnson, once endorsed Karl as the best ever PF. Besides if you look at the Isiah incident, you almost revere Karl, just ask the former CBA owners or any real NY Knicks fan. Respect is all he ever asked for and everything he truly deserves.

posted by RustyFtblr at 07:57 PM on February 15

Consider this, the best player ever to have played BB, Magic Johnson Now I've heard it all...

posted by justgary at 08:47 PM on February 15

Oh he's a first-ballot hall of famer, that's not even a question. Now I've heard it all... Karl certainly wasn't an engaging personality when dealing with the media, or with fellow players(see elbows). Nonetheless, he will get into the hall on a unanimous vote. Now you've heard it all justgary.

posted by bigwhisky at 09:12 PM on February 15

Who cares if people like him. This isn't the All Star game where fans vote you in. Popularity has nothing to do with how well you play the game. Come at me with somebody with the numbers he has. Over 36,000 points, 14,000 rebounds, 4,000 assists, 2,000 steals. An 11 time first all NBA selection with 9 consecutive 2,000 plus point seasons. You don't have to look, because he's the only player with those type numbers. And easy baskets? Malone got double-teamed for his entire career. And ask the Bucks what happens when you don't double team him.... he dropped 61 on them. You don't have to be a mainstay on Sportscenter or have people wear your jersey to be a great player, you just have to work harder than anyone else. And work harder than everyone else is something Malone did his entire career. End result? Greatest Power Forward of all time.

posted by neelrock at 11:52 PM on February 15

Consider this, the best player ever to have played BB, Magic Johnson, once endorsed Karl as the best ever PF. Did he say it on his "best-ever" late night talk show? Or was it during his "best ever" coaching career? Magic has been known to be wrong from time to time, and this is one of them.

posted by mayerkyl at 10:05 AM on February 16

Well said, neelrock. Let me add... Karl Malone was one of ONLY 2 PLAYERS ALL-TIME to average at least 25 points in 11 consecutive seasons!!! (Jerry West being the other) Also one of ONLY 4 PLAYERS ALL-TIME to average at least 25pts and 10reb in their career. (Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Bob Pettit, Karl Malone) I can go on and on, with statistics and awards, but what I will remember most about Karl Malone, is that he is the last of a generation, he played the game the right way, and he gave 200% never taking a night off. With SO MANY players today, just showing up, and collecting a paycheck, he gave the fans their moneys worth, EVERY NIGHT. Like him or not, NUMBERS DON'T LIE. One of the greatest players ever, and UNDISPUTABLY, UNDENIABLY, THE GREATEST POWER FORWARD OF ALL-TIME!!!

posted by Stock at 08:11 AM on February 17

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