I know we'd rather pretend it never happened -- I can already picture Moni's tweets angrily insisting that it did not, in fact, happen -- but our beloved Mailman Karl Malone did play for the not-so-much beloved Lakers for one season, in an ultimately futile quest for a championship. (I was mercifully spared the torture of seeing Karl in Laker gold, as I was living in South Africa at the time. God is good.)
Ex-ESPNer and current Bleacher Report (?!) writer Ric Bucher has published an oral history of that 2003-04 Lakers season, and while the article doesn't quote Karl directly -- did he and Bucher have beef at one point? I can't remember -- he features in a few other scenes, including this anecdote from Luke Walton:
We would get to cities like Milwaukee—I remember Milwaukee specifically because it was snowing outside—and Karl was like, "I need a pair of these certain type of headphones." So I called all around and nobody had them and I was like, "Karl, all I could find were these $20 headphones in the store across the street." He's like, "Well, if you think I'm a $20 player, if you think that's all I'm worth, go get those." I was like, "No, seriously, Karl, if I get you these ones..." And he's like, "No, do what you want, you make the call." So I had to take this 30-minute taxi ride to some suburb in the snow to get him these nice $100 pair of headphones and the next day we're getting off the plane and I see them just sitting in his chair. He's already off the plane. ... So he sent me to get more headphones.
Rookie hazing aside, other Lakers in the article mention how significant the Mailman was to that team, and how his injuries stunted their progress and ultimately may have cost them the Finals against the Pistons. It's nice to see non-Jazzmen give Karl his due, even if they are wearing forum blue and gold.
Speaking of former Jazzmen, Grantland's Jonathan Abrams published a great profile of Paul Millsap on Tuesday, highlighting his quiet nature and strong work ethic. Both qualities endeared him to Jerry Sloan, as the article mentions:
Millsap had not even worked out for the Jazz before the draft. Jerry Sloan, the no-nonsense longtime coach who had steered the career of fellow Louisiana Tech great Karl Malone, was blunt when he met with Richard and Millsap at summer league.
"Keith, I want to know something," Richard recalled Sloan saying. "Is this guy [faking] or is he a hard worker? I want to know right now."
Sloan soon found out that Millsap's work ethic would not be a problem. "The main thing that sticks out with me is [Sloan] telling me to bring my lunch pail every day," Millsap said. "That's coming to work, working hard, coming to games, playing hard, and that's something I'll always take with me."
The whole article is recommended reading, especially for a later tidbit about Jazz assistant coach Johnnie Bryant challenging Millsap to make every jump shot without hitting the rim.
I miss Paul, and I'm glad he's had so much success in Atlanta. Although I hesitate to proclaim him an entirely different player now, as the article kind of implies. Yes, he shoots more jump shots and threes now, and guards more perimeter players, but he was moving his game in that direction with the Jazz anyway. (I...admittedly haven't done the research or watched enough Hawks games to back that up fully, but that's the feeling I get. I could be wrong.)
I guess what I'm trying to say is that, with all due respect to the Hawks, Paul Millsap is just being Paul Millsap. Every year he's been in the NBA, he has added to his game, because that's just who he is.
...crap. Now I miss him even more.
(Oh, and to be fair, I'm happy to still have a Millsap in Jazzland. I hope Eli sticks around, if only as a 12th man/defensive stopper.)
There have been no new FanPosts in the last nine days. Instead, you get this (trampoline-assisted) dunk:
Peep Rudy Gobert's VHS collection:
Here's the crew of draftee hopefuls for Wednesday's workout. Who catches your eye?