No More Deliveries for the Mailman
Karl Malone is retiring, ending a career in which he became one of the NBA’s greatest power forwards and was No. 2 on the league’s all-time scoring list. Malone, who teamed with guard John Stockton for 18 seasons with Utah to form one of the NBA’s greatest duos, will announce his retirement Sunday at the Delta Center, the Jazz said Friday.
The 41-year-old Malone underwent knee surgery last summer and has not played since last season with the Los Angeles Lakers. He joined the Lakers at a greatly reduced salary before last season in an attempt to win an elusive NBA championship by playing with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Detroit beat Los Angeles in the NBA Finals in five games.
The Jazz had no comment Friday on the decision by Malone, whose agent said last week it was possible Malone might return to action with San Antonio.
The Lakers were not surprised.
“We’ve had one year with him and everyone in the organization, from the front office staff, fellow players, coaches, everyone really enjoyed having Karl around for that year,” Lakers spokesman John Black said. “He was a real addition to our team last year in helping us get to the NBA playoffs.”
Malone finishes his career 1,459 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the NBA’s career scoring list.
As an Angeleno, I feel proud to have such a Hall of Famer retire as a Laker, even though he’ll ultimately be remembered as a Utah Jazz and his tenure will be associated with dynastic collapse. Perversely, I also feel somewhat pleased to have him fall short of the scoring record, since Kareem is a more loyal member of our franchise.
The press is focusing primarily on Malone’s point total, which is indeed impressive, but even this accomplishment fails to reflect his true value. According to more advanced statistics, he ranks 12th in the all-time player efficiency rating list. Indeed, he was among the top five in the category from 1989 through 2001. Overall, one can make a solid case that he’s the best power forward in history and an even stronger case that he’s the best power forward of his generation.