In my book, Karl “The Mailman” Malone has to go down as one of the hardest-working, most talent-laden superstars who continued to work on and improve his game every year he was in the league. As a rookie from Louisiana Tech, Karl was a very good player, but perhaps more of an athlete than an overall basketball player. He could run and jump with the best of them, even at 6’9” and about 260 pounds. He kept working on his game until he got to a point where he was an excellent foul shooter (his first couple of years in the league his foul shooting was very limited) and could pull up and hit a mid-range jumper from anywhere on the floor. He had blazing speed that would leave all of the other big men in the dust and could finish off his layups with thunderous tomahawk dunks (many times with his non-layup hand placed behind the back of his head as he posed for the flurry of flashbulbs that would go off while he was in mid-air finishing one of his dunks).
Consistency was the name of the game for Karl Malone. You could always count on him for his 20 points and 10 rebounds night after night, year after year. You don’t end up as the second-leading scorer in NBA history by just showing up; you have to work at it and be consistent.
I had many opportunities to play against the Karl Malone-led Utah Jazz over the years and I would do my best to make sure that Karl wouldn’t take over the inside of the paint and dominate a game.
My last NBA stop was with the Utah Jazz where I was honored to be Karl’s teammate. He kept the bar set really high for all of his teammates as we would hit the weight room before and after practice and he didn’t take too kindly to our not pushing ourselves as hard as we could. Karl was definitely one of those guys I wouldn’t hesitate to go to battle with to take on any situation that confronted us.
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