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Los Angeles Lakers Past and Present Players
Karl Malone - Num 11 - Pos: Forward - Retired
Karl Malone (born July 24, 1963 in Bernice, Louisiana) is a former professional basketball player. He was nicknamed in college as the Mailman for his consistency ("the mailman always delivers"), and was statistically the greatest power forward ever in the NBA.
Malone spent his first 18 seasons (1985–2003) as the star player for the Utah Jazz. He then played one season (2003-04) for the Los Angeles Lakers before retiring from the game.
Malone was famous for his extremely well-defined physique, which resembled that of a bodybuilder. Along with Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Dominique Wilkins, Elgin Baylor, and his longtime Jazz teammate John Stockton, he is considered to be one of the best players, perhaps even the best, never to have won a championship ring.
Malone's jersey was retired on March 23, 2006, when the Jazz hosted the Washington Wizards. He was also honored with the unveiling of a bronze statue outside the Delta Center next to one of teammate John Stockton, and the renaming of a portion of 100 South St. in Salt Lake City in his honor. The intersection where the Stockton and Malone statues stand is now the intersection of Stockton and Malone.
Karl played for three years at Louisiana Tech University. He was ineligible to play his first year because of low grades and he worked hard to raise his grade point average to qualify. This became the hallmark of Karl's career. He was seldom the most talented player, but always went back to his strong work ethic to make up the difference. Karl was very popular in Ruston, Louisiana, and remains so today. He is well known for both his athletic abilities, and his dedication to developing commerce and job opportunities in the parish.
Karl Malone was chosen by the Jazz in 1985 out of Louisiana Tech with the 13th overall pick in the draft.
After his rookie season, the Jazz saw in him the potential to be the cornerstone of their offense. So, they traded star forward, Adrian Dantley, to the Detroit Pistons and decided to build around Malone. Malone's work ethic features prominently in his formative years in the NBA where he raised his free throw shooting percentage from below 50% to 75% in a few years. He also added a long range jump shot which made him virtually unguardable. At the same time, reserve point guard John Stockton, was winning the trust of the coaching staff. By 1987 Karl was the foundation of the offense and Stockton was the floor general and both had All-Star seasons. That season was also the first for head coach Jerry Sloan. The three would be inseparable for 16 seasons. It was also at the end of that season that the Jazz as a team rose to national prominence after an amazing playoffs series against the Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers.
For many years, he and Stockton played together on the Jazz, forming one of the most productive guard-forward combinations in NBA history. Playing Jerry Sloan's scrappy and tough style and perfecting the pick and roll to a maximum degree of efficiency, the Jazz became a staple to make it to the playoffs and to have a winning record in the regular season.
Karl was a very physical player. He liked to draw contact and put other players in foul trouble. As a result, he would lead the NBA in free throws made seven separate seasons (an NBA record). He was also a physical defender and rebounder. He was widely thought of as one of the dirtiest players in the league and was sometimes accused of intentionally trying to harm other players. Some of those who suffered collisions with Karl include Isiah Thomas, David Robinson, Shawn Bradley,Steve Nash and Hakeem Olajuwon.
By the mid-90's the Utah Jazz had risen to power as one of the top five teams in the league and had started to knock on the doors of the NBA Finals. They finally got there in 1997 and 1998 but were defeated both times by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. In 1999 (the year after Jordan's retirement), the Jazz were the favorites to win, but were hindered by a compressed schedule (stemming from the NBA lockout) and instead started a gradual decline that was a reflection of the aging of their two superstar players. Eventually, Stockton would retire at the end of the 2003 season. Karl stayed for one more season, joining the Los Angeles Lakers to try and win a championship, the only major achievement that had eluded him in his career. His bid failed as the Lakers were defeated in five games by the Detroit Pistons in 2004. Although several NBA teams sought his services for the 2004-2005 season, Malone decided to retire as a player on February 13, 2005. Karl Malone wore number 32 for the Utah Jazz. He wore number 11 for the Los Angeles Lakers (number 32 was retired honoring Magic Johnson) and also for the Dream Team (the players wore 4 to 15 to adhere to FIBA rules). Malone was considered by some to be a rough player. There were numerous instances during his career where other players were injured as a result of Malone's physical playing style. Below is a summary of several of the more prominent examples of Malone's perceived dirty play:
At Louisiana Tech, Malone's elbow struck Rice center Dave Ramer in the face, shattering his cheekbone and collapsing his sinus. Ramer never played again. On December 14, 1991, Malone's elbow hit the Detroit Pistons' Isiah Thomas in the head as he drove to the basket. Thomas needed 40 stitches above his eye. Malone was suspended and fined by the NBA. Alledgedly, Michael Jordan refused to be on the "Dream Team" if Isiah Thomas was on it, so John Stockton made the team instead of Thomas. Thomas responded by drilling Stockton for 44 points in a subsequent game. Pistons coach Chuck Daly furiously accused Malone of intentionally harming Thomas in retribution for this. On April 7, 1998, Malone's knee struck the Warriors Donyell Marshall, breaking one of his ribs, ending his season. Marshall would eventually play two seasons with the Utah Jazz from 2000-2002. The next night, Malone's elbow knocked David Robinson unconscious, earning a suspension. Malone was famous for his "kick jumpshot," where he would use a leg kick to power his jumpshot. He was fined for kicking Shawn Bradley on January 6, 2000. On December 4, 2003, Malone's elbow hit Steve Nash, who required several stitches in his mouth, earning Malone a suspension.