Karl Malone was one of America’s most successful basketball players whose illustrious career spanned some nineteen years. He was known, in particular, for his great consistency as a sportsman and it was this that earned him the nickname of the Mailman. Karl, like a mailman, could always be expected to deliver. Malone spent most of his career playing for the Utah Jazz. He spent his final season with the Los Angeles Lakers, finally retiring in 2004.
Karl Malone, born July 24, 1963, grew up in Summerfield, Louisiana. Like many American basketball champions, Malone began his career playing the sport at university level. Indeed, he was a prominent and successful member of the Louisiana Tech basketball team. In 1985, he was scouted by visiting Utah Jazz officials who were impressed by his great talent and potential. This marked the beginning of Malone’s NBA career.
NBA Career Highlights
Karl Malone had an extremely successful personal career within the NBA. Here’s the lowdown on some of his finest achievements.
By 1987, two years after joining the Jazz, Malone had established himself as one of his team’s finest players. In particular, he formed a close association with the prominent Jazz player, John Stockton. Their partnership would help the Jazz gain success on numerous occasions. 1987 also marked the Jazz’s rise to national fame, following their success in an NBA playoffs series against the LA Lakers, which at the time was captained by the legendary Magic Johnson.
Malone’s prowess was essential when it came to helping the Utah Jazz reach the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. However, despite the best efforts of Malone and his teammates, victory for the Jazz was not on the cards. They were defeated on both occasions by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.
In 2004, Malone left the Utah Jazz for the Los Angeles Lakers. He hoped that joining a new team would see a change in his fortunes and allow him to be part of an NBA champion team. However, the LA Lakers were defeated in just five games by the Detroit Pistons during the 2004 NBA Finals. This came as a severe blow to Malone, and he announced his retirement from the game soon after. It seemed that general disappointment rather than waning talent was the predominant reason behind Malone’s retirement. A number of teams requested his services for the 2004-2005 season, but Malone declined all offers received.
Standing at a massive 6’9’’, it should come as little surprise that Malone has aggregated a massive 36,928 points during his basketball career. He has an average of 25.0 points per game. In particular, his height and sheer physical power allowed him to master the art of the slam dunk. In addition, he was particularly skilled at the long-range jump shot. It was practically impossible for opposing teams to defend themselves against the might of Karl Malone in these situations. His success rate depended not only on his mean stature, however, but also on the passing partnership that he developed with John Stockton. Malone was also noted for his ability to capture rebounds at a rate of 10.1 per game. Malone has also been regarded as one of the most durable players in the NBA. He missed a mere five season games during the first thirteen years of his NBA career.
Malone holds several honours to his name. These include:
NBA Most Valued Player: 1997, 1999
11-time All-NBA First Team: 1988-1999
All-NBA Second Team: 1988, 2000
All-Defensive First Team: 1997-1999
All-Defensive Second Team: 1988
NBA All-Rookie Team: 1985
One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History: 1996
- Malone is also a two-time Olympic medalist, winning gold with the United States basketball team in the 1992 and 1996 games. Both Karl Malone and John Stockton were part of America’s 1992 Dream Team. This was the first US Olympic basketball team to feature professional NBA players.
- Malone has also been Ranked No 13 in Slam Magazine’s 2003 list of the Top 75 NBA Players of all time.
- Malone holds the NBA record for the highest number of free throws attempted and made. He also holds second place in the NBA’s all-time scoring list – second only to the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabber.
- In recognition of these achievements, a bronze statue of Karl Malone was constructed outside the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. His statue stands alongside that of John Stockton.
Malone was involved in few significant controversies during his basketball career. He was, however, vocal when it came to opposing Magic Johnson’s return to the game after it was disclosed that the latter player had contracted HIV. In general, Malone displayed great poise on the field, demonstrated in particular during a 1995 game against the New Jersey Mets, when Malone shrugged off an insult from a member of the opposing team. In that instance, the Mets’ Derrick Coleman had described Malone as an ‘Uncle Tom’ – a derogatory term which referred to an African American who was regarded as being subservient to white Americans.
Karl Malone has also made a career for himself outside basketball. He has dabbled in television and the movies, starring most notably in episodes of the US television show, Nash Bridges. Karl Malone has also featured in the popular World of Warcraft computer game. In the animated game, players may summons a character known as Postmaster Malown – a name drawn in part from Malone’s own nickname of the Postmaster.
Malone ended his illustrious career in 2004. Since then, he has made it his goal to help youngsters who have displayed great talent at the sport, particularly within America’s inner cities. Malone has also retained his influence within the NBA, despite his retirement. In 2007, Malone took up position as assistant strength and conditioning coach at his former university, Louisiana Tech. Malone also oversees basketball promotion at the university.