Karl Malone is one of the greatest NBA players of all time, and has the records to show it.
The former Utah Jazz power forward was a staple for one of the greatest tandems of the 90’s. John Stockton and Malone were, and may still be, the best point guard/big man duo around. Stockton holds the NBA record for assists in part because of his teammate Malone, and Malone benefitted from his point guard as well.
Karl Malone: Career
Known as “The Mailman,” Karl Malone’s iconic #32 Jazz jersey hangs high in the rafters of Vivian Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, never to be worn again by another player that plays for their franchise. If you’re wondering where the nickname originated, he received it dating back to his days in college. It was claimed that Malone was “The Mailman,” because he always delivered.
In his 18 season, 1476 game Hall of Fame career, Malone averaged a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds. From the minute he arrived in the NBA, drafted as a 1st rounder, he was a factor, making the All-NBA Rookie First team. ;
Malone finished his career with 36,928 career points and 14,968 career rebounds, and his single-game career highs in those categories were 61 and 23, all-time great type of numbers. He shot over 50% for his entire career as well (51.6%), which is an outstanding feat considering he played for so long and had such an important role in the offense.
Malone has accolades upon accolades to his name, from his 2 MVP awards to his 14 All-Star Game appearances. He won the MVP for 2 of those All-Star games as well. Possibly the most remarkable accomplishment of his career though is his record as a winner, as the Jazz made the playoffs every year he played (though he was never able to win a championship). Yes, all 19 years of his NBA career with the Jazz, they made playoffs, which speaks volumes to the type of consistency he helped bring the franchise.
Unfortunately, Malone falls into the category of players who missed out on a championship because they had to face Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the NBA Finals. In 1997, one of the years Malone won an MVP award in, the Jazz took the Bulls to 6 games before Steve Kerr hit the 3 pointer that proved to be the dagger for Utah’s championship hopes. Malone played great in the series nonetheless, averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds, including standout performance of 37 points in Game 3.
For the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team” that won the gold medal in Barcelona, Spain, Malone was the leading rebounder. Many consider this to be the greatest basketball roster ever assembled. For his accomplishments on this team and of course the Jazz, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Don’t believe for a second though that Malone was only about offense, as he was a defensive anchor for several years too, appearing on 3 All-NBA Defensive First Teams. His strength on defense, was, indeed, his strength. Malone was a master of using his size and muscle to box out, rebound, and stay in front of his man. He was also an outstanding defender in pick and roll situations, agile enough to switch onto guards if need be, but also big enough to fight through the screen and defend the paint. Running all those screen and rolls with Stockton on the offensive end might have helped, too.
Malon ended up retiring in 2004 at the age of 39 and was inducted to the Hall of Fame 5 years later, in 2009. He is without a doubt one of the greatest and most accomplished players in NBA history, regardless of position.