Jay C. Brandriet
I’ve been thinking about Karl Malone today.
His 36,928 points is the second highest total of all time.
LeBron James is only 56 points short of passing this mark.
James will get there in about 112 fewer games.
He’s attempted 6,144 three-point shots to date.
Karl took 310.
Malone has more free throw makes than anyone in league history.
He still has 2,000 more than LeBron.
In some ways, LBJ got there with threes and Malone with ones.
Every time LeBron takes the floor, he’s on a record-breaking parade.
I’d like to focus on the guy who’s not celebrated on a daily basis.
KARL MALONE STORY TIME
If you grew up in the state of Utah, the big star here from about 1988 to 2000 was Karl Malone.
Many of us have stories of seeing him around.
This is a good opportunity to tell a few myself.
THE FIRST TIME I MET “THE MAILMAN”
It was January of 1990. I got a call from my buddy Johnny Davis. His father had some association with Brockbank Jr. High. Karl Malone was going to be there tonight, and we had some good access. He gave us all an 8×10 glossy picture of himself with an autograph. Johnny and I thought it was crucial enough to bring to school the next day. We were 14.
Malone was talking to us on a microphone. At the end of his speech, he promised to slam the basketball. More than his hammer dunk, I remember the incredible flashes from the cameras.
Knowing who the Jazz played the next day I said to Karl, “Milwaukee nothing!” He gave me a friendly smirk.
The following evening, Karl had one of the best outings to exist.
61 points, (21-26 shooting, 19-23 free throws) 18 rebounds, 3 steals, and won by 48!
I enjoyed pretending I inspired him in some way.
HIs real inspiration?
Karl was pissed A.C. Green was voted a starter over him in the All-Star Game.
A GENERAL MANAGER TRIED TELLING ME I WAS WRONG
It was a Saturday afternoon in 2002. Randolph Fairbairn and I were doing a radio show from inside an empty Delta Center. The Portland Trailblazers would be playing the Utah Jazz hours later. We got on the topic of who was better at this exact point, Karl Malone or Rasheed Wallace? Keep in mind that Malone was now older, and Wallace was at his highest peak.
I was arguing for Wallace as Randolph favored Malone.
I said multiple times, “30,000 points has nothing to do with TODAY.”
Over to my right, I noticed Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor briskly walking down the stairs. He was shouting something to us. I had my headphones on and had to focus. He was saying, “DEFENSE….DEFENSE.” At the time I saw it as, oh that’s cool he’s listening to us.
After Karl scored 30, and Rasheed was ejected something hit me. An NBA general manager wasn’t stopping by to say hello. He was vehemently disagreeing with me. His point was I was under doing his guy’s defensive prowess, and that Karl was still better. Confidence shaken in my stance? Some, for sure.
KARL MALONE’S PANTS
In the 2000-01 range, I was involved with a Utah Jazz promotion. They had a group of fans stay in this mobile home parked in front of the arena. The general competition was, whoever can stay in here longest will get Utah Jazz season tickets. It was called “temptation trailer.”
I would come by and do radio updates from the location. I would hang out with this group. I spent most of the time preaching about Kobe Bryant. In the process, I met my friend Josh Wright.
One day number 32, and his wife Kay showed up. Karl gave them gifts and a sincere thank you. He called them “true die hards.”
I have such a random memory from that afternoon. My coworker Scottie Jessup yells to “The Mailman”, “KARL MALONE WEARS JABOT JEANS?”
Russ Riggs had a good chuckle over this.
KARL WAS NOT IMPRESSED
I was spending a summer afternoon with Jazz assistant coach Gordon Chiesa. We walked into the teams practice facility. The only people there were “The Mailman” and strength and conditioning coach Mark McKown. Malone was throwing around a bunch of weight on the bench press.
After his set, he sat up and shook my hand. I was saying something positive about his upcoming season. I go, “Kirilenko is a beast.” He kind of had a blank stare. He then says, “I’m a beast. More plates!” Karl went back to work.
THE PERFECT GOODBYE
March 23rd, 2006. The Jazz unveiled the bronze statue of Karl next to teammate John Stockton. They renamed part of a road for him and retired his jersey number. He was holding a press conference before the nights action. My duties were after the game, so I went down to listen to him talk.
Karl’s last comment was, “It may be a big deal now, but it could be all be forgotten.”
Six feet away, I blurted out, “it’ll always be a big deal to people from here.”
He looked at me, tipped his cowboy hat, and walked away.
For just a second, it felt like a scene from a movie.
This is an impressive milestone for LeBron James.
I predict on the coming occasion, he will put his left hand behind his head like “The Mailman” used to.
Karl Malone is one of the true greats, to ever lace-em-up.
Jay C. Brandriet