First of all, let's get some things out there. Despite what ESPN may try to tell you -- Karl Malone was a player for the Utah Jazz, and not the Los Angeles Lakers. And secondly, he was a pretty good player. A lot of my twitter timeline yesterday was filled with hate for Karl Malone. I get that, if I was a fan of a team he routinely punked I'd still be upset too. It's funny how much hate he still elicits from opposing / national basketball fans. I guess that means he did his job out there on the court.
He's down there in Houston, Texas for the All-Star weekend. Older, wiser, still overly verbal, Karl is at a much different place in his life than he was back when he was a player. I remember that while he loved the adulation, he hated the forced events and mandatory formality of it all when he was an All-Star. I guess he had a point as Karl was a 14 time All-Star.If I had to do something for work over and over again for 14 years I'd be a little less enthused as well. However, this piece isn't about me -- it's about The Mailman.
Karl is back in his element with the cameras on him, and ready to be a larger part of the NBA present and give back to the institution that accepted him, and helped mold the majority of his adult life. NCAA Division I Football recently accepted Karl's son, Karl Jr. (or K.J.) into their institution / junior college LSU. And this father of many is ready to take on some more young men to help mold. He has made no bones about just who he'd want to help (the Utah Jazz tandem of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter), and what he'd help them with (developing a face-up game around the basket that can be taken out gradually to give them a much more robust offensive zone of effectiveness). I believe that Karl Malone could help -- because the type of trajectory you need to teach for a shot at the 6'9 height is a lot different than the trajectory a 6'4 former guard could teach. But hey, don't take my word for it, use your brain and physics instead.
Malone took out a great deal of his evening out to work in front of the camera for NBA TV / TNT and held court in Houston. I found that to be really special to me, personally, as a Jazz fan. Because I remember waaay back when, in 1989 when Karl Malone won his first All-Star Game MVP award. He was only 25 years old, playing in his 2nd All-Star game, and with *only* 8530 career minutes under his belt (a cumulative 34.8 MPG, for those of you who were wondering -- which is what Kanter and Favors add up to per game). Where was this game? Houston. (As an aside, Houston has hosted the All-Star game in 1989, 2006, and 2013.)
Karl Malone went to work in H-town, finishing the game with 28 points (12/17 fg), 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and the 143-134 win in 26 minutes of work. This isn't like Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, or Mehmet Okur making the team as a replacement (or a replacement replacement) and doing little in the game. Karl went down to Texas to kick butt, he did, and left Texas with some hardware. No Jazz player had as a dominating performance in an All-Star game like Karl did . . . save for his partner in crime John Stockton (who finished the game with 11 points, 17 assists, 5 steals, and 2 rebounds . . . . not too shabby). It's no surprise that they combined to deliver another West victory, and share All-Star MVP honors, four years later.
It's almost pointless to list all of Karl's accomplishments. But it's very clear that right now he's very interested in giving back to the institution that helped shape him as a young man. Now a few months from the big 5-0 the Mailman has another big delivery to make. And if the Utah Jazz organization could get over themselves, he'd love to help shape, teach, train, and mold our current young studs into future All-Stars.
He's willing to do it for free too. (After all, he's the same guy who fought AGAINST FEMA to help people after a natural disaster, and did it on his own dime, and was self contained with his crew -- they didn't even take bottled water from the government while they were working all day long. <-- all verified info, but hey, you're a Karl hater just continue hating on him for somethings he did as a teenager.)
Malone openly lobbied for a job on TV last night, and worst of all, that's exactly what's not going to get him the job. The Jazz have all but openly indicated that they don't want him. And that's just insane in my mind. Why? Let's look at why this is insane:
- The Utah Jazz traded away Deron Williams, an All-NBA / Olympian for Favors, and then the pick that became Kanter
- They are two high priced guys ($9 million combined this season), who are on contracts with the clock ticking -- just ask other small market teams how well they've retained their Top 5 picks recently
- They are playing 22.0 mpg (Favors), and 14.3 mpg (Kanter)
- They are 21 and 20 years old
- They'd get better if you played them -- but you're not playing them
- They'd get better if you hired a big to teach them -- but you're letting combo guards teach them
- Again, you moved a star for them, but wish to only ruin their market value
- If you are a businessman this is called ' running a failed business' to trade for assets that you don't put the work into (Yes, let me trade you my stallion horse for two young horses who could also be great race horses, but I'm not going to train them so I get no return on my investment!)
- And again, the best power forward in the history of the game is openly telling you he'll do it -- because he wants to give back to the organization that took a chance on him.
But, of course, this is the new NBA, and the new Utah Jazz, with very new ideas about loyalty and the benefit of actual continuity. We start and celebrate mercenaries while the media guide hints at a better future based upon our youth. At least for one weekend in February we loyal, long-time Jazz fans, still have Karl Malone on TV telling it like it is. He is back in Houston, effectively, back where his All-Star greatness started. Pride is a fool's fortress. Karl has made some mistakes in his life, but he's dedicating his post-playing years towards helping others. Saying no to his help would be a bigger mistake.
After all, the Jazz *are* paying Favors and Kanter $9,072,600 this year to be paperweights. And their future contract value will always be higher in the future. Use 'em before you lose 'em. And use Karl before you lose him too. After a while -- he'll STOP offering to help.