Be sure to see Karl Malone getting his just desserts in a wrestling match!
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According to an informal poll cited by Sports Illustrated, "50% of NBA players consider Malone physical but entirely within the rules, 40% say that he tests the upper limit of physicality too frequently, and 10% believe that he's outright dirty."
That was then. The number is far higher now. For instance, Malone has been voted many times as the dirtiest player in the league by athletes and fans alike. Last year,
Karl Malone is nuts about pro wrestling, tractor pulls, and 18 wheelers. He is also a great actor. His specialty is flailing his arms around and flying through the air, and flopping on the ground while pretending to be fouled.
Karl Malone is one of the league's most popular players. The NBA banks on his popularity, and even helps him along, padding his stats with phantom fouls resulting in thousands of free throws he doesn't deserve, and keeping him in many games by not calling fouls he does deserve. More often than not, they also look the other way and do nothing when Malone pulls some stunt that would get most players suspended, like kicking a player in the crotch. Malone's career is a long and dirty one, with more hospitalizations caused than any other player in NBA history.
Some important events in Karl Malone's career:
Karl Malone Injured
Far be it from me to feel happy about another person's misfortune, but ...
|Steve Nash points to the tooth he almost lost thanks to Karl Malone's elbow.|
After years of trying to elbow his way to the top in Utah, Karl Malone gave up, thumbed his nose at legions of loyal Jazzholes, and went to beg Shaq to carry him a ring. He paid $13 million for the privilege of hurting people for Shaq and Kobe. The basketball world was amazed -- could the Lakers really put Shaq, Kobe, Malone, and Gary Payton on the court under the salary cap? Would the Shaq-Kobe feud split the team apart? Would the Lakers finally be slapped around by the league for tampering? Would Malone finally win his championship? Hoe long would it take for the vicious Malone to draw blood?
Not long, it seems. On Thursday, December 4, 2003, "Dr. Elbow" (as Gil Lebreton of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram calls him) struck again. During the Lakers' 114-103 over the Mavericks at Dallas, Malone shoved his way to a rebound, and when Mavs' Steve Nash tried to steal the ball, Malone crushed an elbow to the slender guard's face, bloodying him and nearly breaking off a tooth. As Gil Lebreton wrote in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Malone "remains his usual nasty, elbow-slinging self." Nash received two stitches.
As with his many other vicious assaults, Malone didn't seem to care that he had badly injured someone. He shrugged off the incident, saying "I turn like this all the time," referring to his style of grabbing a rebound and then aiming an elbow an someone defenseless nearby. Malone said he considers it a "dead play" after he has secured the rebound, so he didn't think there was reason for Nash to be near him. Malone seems to be a little confused, in that only referees can whistle a play dead. Of course, NBA referees spend so much time licking and polishing Malone's boots, it isn't surprising he has delusions.
Unlike many previous incidents, Malone was suspended by the league for his attack, although for only one game. Despite his many elbows and knees, this is only the seventh game he has missed because of suspensions in his career. Dallas owner Mark Cuban was incensed by the laxity of the punishment, saying, "that was intentional and malicious ... [Malone] should get at least three games." Cuban suggested that he was not satisfied with the NBA's punishment and sought to establish a pattern of similar behavior by Malone:
Let's see, he got one game when he gave Isiah Thomas 40 stitches, he got one game when he elbowed David Robinson and knocked him unconscious, he got one game when he elbowed Joe Kleine, who ended up needing plastic surgery; he got fined $10,000 for throwing an elbow and kicking at Shawn Bradley the same week I bought the team. Shawn Bradley was called for a technical after getting kicked in the stomach on one of Malone's "kick jumpers." Bradley crumpled to the floor in pain. Malone was so repentant and sorry, his comment was, "When a Volkswagen hits an 18-wheeler, what's the result going to be?"
By giving Malone only a single game as punishment, the NBA, in effect, censures Cuban and endorsed Malone's quest to elbow his way to a championship. If the league keep kissing up to Malone and Shaq stays healthy enough to carry him, he may finally steal a ring.
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When Karl Malone was still in college, he threw an elbow that sent Rice center Dave Ramer to the hospital and ended his career.
From the December 6, 1984 Washington Post:
Rice junior center Dave Ramer will undergo reconstructive surgery Friday in Houston to repair multiple injuries suffered in what Coach Tommy Suitts says was an intentional elbowing incident in Monday's game against Louisiana Tech. Ramer has a depressed cheekbone, fractures above and below his right eye socket and a collapsed sinus after the incident involving Louisiana Tech's Karl Malone.
Malone had gone up for a rebound and came down swinging his elbows. Ramer was unfortunate enough to be in the same area code. The blow shattered Ramer's cheekbone, and he went down screaming in pain. Malone just looked at him and walked away. Malone's coach was so appalled by Malone's behavior that he went out on the court and told Malone to go back and show some decency and concern. Let me repeat that for emphasis:
Malone's coach made him go back out on the court and act like he cared.
It was obvious that he didn't. Malone muttered a forced apology, but of course Ramer was in no condition to hear it.
Ramer never played basketball again. Amazingly, instead of going to jail or being sued, Malone went on to the NBA and his career flourished. But he didn't stop sending people to the hospital.
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A few years later, in the NBA, Malone struck again in a game against the Rockets in Utah. Lewis Lloyd grabbed a rebound, and as he was falling out of bounds, Malone took a step backwards to deliberately floor him with a malicious elbow. Lloyd got stitches, Malone didn't even get a foul called on him.
Even then the refs protected him.
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In December 1991, Isiah Thomas, one of the league's most loved superstars, was driving to the basket and Karl Malone "went for the ball" but somehow managed to hit Isiah's face so hard with an "unintentional" elbow that Thomas had to be carries from the court and required plastic surgery and forty stitches.
Malone was assessed a flagrant foul and given a $10,000 fine and a one-game suspension. Malone, of course, claimed it was an accident and did not mean to hurt Thomas. After the incident, he talked to Isiah and denied the elbow was deliberate and offered no apology.
As Michael Lowe, D.P.M., team podiatrist for the Utah Jazz, remembered it in remarks at the 1996 AAPSM annual meeting:
Isiah Thomas was driving the lane hard to the basket when Karl swatted at the ball but missed and caught Isiah across the eye brow with his elbow. Again the smaller mass paid the price from the 265 lb. Malone. Thomas went down hard to the court. His initial reaction was that he had been shot in the head by some one in the stands. I looked down to see if the Orthopedic Surgeon was going on to the court, he wasn't in his seat, he had gone outside of the court area to answer a page. Isiah was hemorrhaging from the laceration quite badly and was badly dazed from the impact with Karl's elbow. I went down to see if I could help the trainer, since there was general mayhem on the court. I suggested that we put a collar on him and get a back board to carry him off the court. It was at this point that Bill Laimbeer grabbed me from behind and practically lifted me off the ground by the neck, telling me that Isiah wasn't going to leave the court that way. This was done by shouting about 2 inches away directly into my face. Before I could react from his shove to my chest to get me out of the way, he picked Isiah Thomas up like you would pick up your three year old son, and carried him very carefully into the locker room for further evaluation. It was at about this time the Orthopod showed up. I gladly turned the situation, and Bill Lambier, over to him. Isiah had a lacerated artery across the brow and was bleeding quite profusely. Lambier refused to leave his side. Since Isiah had a poster boy like face, the Orthopedic surgeon elected to have him transported to the hospital for a Plastic Surgeon to do the primary repair. Lambier went with him to the hospital too. That's what I call team support.
Of course, Malone supports his team, too -- only he does it by hurting opponents, not just helping his teammates.
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Playboy, April 1989, p. 80.
Karl Malone was interviewed in Playboy magazine shortly after the Isiah Thomas incident. Malone said he enjoyed pushing the refs till he got away with something and then pushing to see what he could get away with, and then, when they let him get away with something, he would push again to try to get away with more. He pushed and pushed, and the refs gave and gave, until the league created someone very dangerous. (The choice of the word "dangerous," by the way, is not mine -- it a word chosen by journalists like Eddie Sefko and players like Avery Johnson.)
Yes, the man is talented and an amazing athlete. But he is also a dangerous, arrogant bastard, and without the protection of the refs and the NBA he would never be an MVP, and would probably not be an all-pro.
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After a game in which Malone sent Atlanta Hawk Sidney Moncrief sprawling,
according to Sports Illustrated, fellow Hawk, Dominique Wilkins stung the
Mailman with a rebuke, to this effect: "You're a cheap-shot artist. You're
not a man. You always go out there to hurt somebody smaller than you."
This would become a recurring theme in Malone's career.
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On April 9, 1998, Karl Malone ended Donyell Marshall's season when an "inadvertent" knee broke Marshall's rib. As poor Donyell lay in agony on the floor, visions of Dave Ramer must have played in Malone's head. But unlike Malone's college coach, Jerry Sloan had no sympathy for the mauled victim. He rushed out on the court to moan at the officials, claiming Marshall had been playing illegal defense. According to the Associated Press:
(AP) -- On Tuesday night, Golden State forward Donyell Marshall broke a rib when he was accidentally kneed by Malone, who scored an NBA season-high 56 points in the game.
The next night, Malone attacked David Robinson.
So that's Malone's secret of success -- win an important
game by disabling the opponent's best player, and score a lot of
points by injuring the defender! Oh, I misstated it: Marshall broke
his own rib (note the use of passive voice in the AP story: "Donyell
Marshall broke a rib"), and
according to Malone-loving officials, Robinson illegally hit Malone's
elbow with his head. I'm surprised
they didn't call "3 Seconds" or "Delay of Game" on Robinson,
as well, as he lay senseless on the floor!
No wonder so many people hate the Jazz.
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In April of 1998, Malone was suspended yet again for a flagrant elbow. This time, the victim was former MVP and sportsman of the year David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs. Malone was fined $5,000 and suspended for one game, which, incredibly, ended his streak of consecutive starts at 543. That's right, despite all the vicious elbows and knees he had thrown over the years, the NBA had not suspended Malone since the Isiah incident. Obviously, Malone was feeling entitled. The league would let him get away with anything. Well, almost.
The Utah Jazz clinched the division title with a win over San Antonio that night, thanks to some "heroics" from Karl Malone. According to the Associated Press:
(AP) -- David Robinson was knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion after being hit in the head by Karl Malone's elbow 2 1/2 minutes into Wednesday night's San Antonio-Utah game in which the Jazz beat the Spurs 98-88. Robinson was revived after about two minutes following the first-quarter collision [...] and was escorted from the floor to the locker room. [...] Robinson was guarding Malone near the basket when the Utah forward received a pass from John Stockton. As Malone turned toward the basket, his left elbow caught Robinson on the right side of the head. Robinson immediately dropped to the floor, without breaking his fall with his hands or arms. [...] Robinson was was called for a foul on the play.
Yes, you read that right: Robinson was was called for the foul! As
one NBA fan wrote, "This is the NBA, and it's not so important what
happened as who did it. If that was J.R. Reid, he'd be back
in Europe. But it was the Mailman, so he'll probably get away scot
free." The NBA has rules involving elbows; in fact, elbows are
mentioned in three different places in the rules, one stating that
an elbow which makes contact
above shoulder level is grounds for immediate ejection. Of course, this is the
NBA and they love Karl Malone, so instead of ejecting Malone, they
blamed Robinson for getting in the way. As his
limp body was falling to the floor he was assessed a blocking foul -- evidently it's not legal to hit Malone's flying elbow with your head.
A brilliant bit of strategy by Malone, who seems to confuse the NBA with his beloved pro wrestling and is never corrected by the league. When the game is important enough, put the other team's best player in the hospital!
Watch for Yourself
Eddie Sefko of the Houston Chronicle charitably called it a "wild elbow." Avery Johnson said, "He should be suspended. You saw the replay. Two plus two equals four." Of course, only some people saw the replay. Jazz officials refused to allow the replay to be shown in the stadium on the big screens. Obviously, they were afraid that even Jazz fans would turn against Malone. In an ESPN poll, only 29.8% of respondents though it was an accident. Robinson himself forgave Malone, which was very Christian of him, since he seemed to believe the blow was intentional.
On the Clutch BBS, Flapjacker wrote: "I usually feel that anti-Jazzers are the biggest whiners around, but this case is different. [...] David Robinson had reached around to strip a pass to Malone. After the ball had been stripped, Malone did the usual "shooting motion" in order to draw the shooting foul. However, his right hand was still at waist level where Robinson had hacked it, the ball was three feet away, and Malone spun and followed through with "shooting motion" wherein he swung his non-shooting elbow around at head level with full force and smacked Robinson in the back of the head. It's hard to gauge intent, but Malone needs at least a one game suspension for this."
Hakeem Olajuwon said after the incident, "You can go all the way back to college. He's always played that way." Olajuwon was playing for the University of Houston when Rice University center Dave Ramer had his career ended by an "inadvertent" Malone elbow. In that incident, which ended Ramer's career, Malone's coach had to force him to apologize to Ramer as he writhed on the floor in agony.
Malone says he apologized to Robinson after the game. I wonder if Jerry Sloan had to force him.
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Houston guard Brent Price accused Malone of attempting to injure him. Batty Bullard
"I hope he doesn't think I'm pretty."
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|Hakeem Olajuwon (250 pounds) sends Karl Malone (265 pounds) flying to the floor apparently, by telekinesis.|
Best Actor -- Karl Malone
I'm not an S/E, so it blows my mind how a 256-pound power forward can be brushed by a 185-pound point guard and go flying 20 feet into the seats or how air molecules can cause a personal foul. Somehow, the Mailman creates such situations and wins the hearts and minds of coddling refs everywhere. He should win more Academy Awards than Jerry Maguire for his tremendous performance this past year.
Eddie Johnson said, " He's been flailing his whole career. That's why he's always at the foul line. He's falling on the floor, flailing his arms."
Brent Price said, "They [Stockton and Malone] are both pretty good actors. They might want to go to Hollywood after their careers." Price, 6'1" and listed charitably at 190 pounds, continued, "Look at my size. I can't really knock Karl Malone down, I don't think, even if I was going full speed and he was just standing there."
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On April 27, 1999, yet another player had to be carried from the court needing plastic surgery after a run in with Malone. Fortunately, this time Malone only broke Joe Kleine's nose.
The AP reported the incident:
SUNS ENHANCE THEIR PLAYOFF CHANCES WITH ROUGH WIN AT UTAH
(AP) - Jason Kidd was so ill, he felt like throwing up on the court. Joe Kleine's nose was so battered, he needed plastic surgery after the game. But after beating the Utah Jazz on their home floor, the Phoenix Suns never felt better. Kidd had 19 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds as the revved-up Suns, spurred by a series of physical confrontations with Karl Malone, beat the Jazz, 99-85, Monday night. Utah lost at home for just the third time this season, while the Suns, who still have a shot at the fifth playoff seed in the West, won their third straight and ninth in their last 12. Phoenix ended up winning the war even though Kleine -- who had his face bloodied and his lip split by a Malone elbow -- looked like a casualty. "Joe's getting plastic surgery right now," his coach Danny Ainge said afterward. "It's all right. He needed a little plastic surgery."
At least Danny could laugh about it. Joe was in the hospital.
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On Thursday, January 6, 2000,
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Watch any utah game. People are scared of him. It amazes me how malone gets so many fouls called, yet many people are afraid to get near him. And who can blame them? What makes the malone elbow so dangerous is how he throws it. It is similar to a bear clawing a human. It would not be so bad if malone threw a regular elbow, but malone's elbows are really more like punches, with the joint taking the place of the fist. You can see him wind his arm back (or forward I guess) to build up more force when he throws it. How can he say that is then unintentional? What is he trying to do when he "sets up" his elbow? check to see if he's wearing deodorant?
Peter May, columnist for the Boston Globe, noted that "Shawn Bradley was called for a technical after getting kicked in the stomach on one of Malone's 'kick jumpers.' Bradley crumpled to the floor in pain. Said the Mailman, 'When a Volkswagen hits an 18-wheeler, what's the result going to be?'"
Mike Fine, sports writer for the Patriot ledger, wrote: "Is anybody else tired of hearing about Karl malone's 'inadvertent elbows'?"
In hockey, you can get a major penalty for a high stick, regardless of whether you meant it or not. You can get worse punishment for clear intent to injure, but you just can't have your stick near people's faces. Period. Same thing in football with chop blocking. Just too dangerous to allow. I don't understand why throwing elbows in basketball, given how strong these guys are, isn't taken more seriously.
Ever the coward, Malone claims all those many, many dangerous knees, kicks, and elbows are "accidents." But remember, this is the same coward that waited until Othella Harrington -- who is almost as big as he is -- had his back turned before hitting him in April, 2000.
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Why is Karl Malone an all-star? His remarkable physique and constant hard work to improve his basketball skills. Why is he an all-pro? The NBA wants him to be. The referees reward Malone with several undeserved free throws per night to pad his statistics, and refuse to call all his fouls to keep him in the game longer. BUt the refs don't deserve all of the blame.
The NBA is a marketing engine and their entire marketing strategy revolves around marketable players to feature in TV ads. It's not "Boston! LA!" It's "Bird! Magic!" So the league needs players to market. At some point, they pick someone they think they can market, and they hype him. Of course, it has to be someone talented; Greg Ostertag could never be a star, but maybe a Clarence Weatherspoon.... give him 20 FT a night and don't call fouls on him, and see how he does in the all-star balloting... Hmmmmm.....
You can just imagine the conversation in the NBA boardroom: "That Karl Malone seems to be a nice guy, he works hard, plays hard, isn't missing any teeth ... he's our guy! Tell the refs to make sure he scores more!"
Matt Maloney, after the NBA office called John Stockton to warn him against throwing more elbows like the one that had nearly smashed Maloney's nose in the '97 playoffs, said "It's incredible. At the end of the game. they [the officials] are not going to call illegal picks anyway, so they [the Jazz] are going to set the screens as illegally as they want.
Ironically, the last play of that series had Stockton hitting a wide open three to win it. Why was he so open? Karl Malone had set a "pick" on Clyde Drexler that involved literally picking him up and carrying him away from the play . Of course, there was no call. The NBA and its officials have always covered up for their precious Karl, just as the little toadies in high school sucked up to the head bully.
Complain to the NBA!
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Another similar incident involved Bill Cartwright breaking a bone in
Hakeem Olajuwon's face several years ago. no one complained about that
because it was OBVIOUSLY an accident, Cartwright did not have a history of
crippling people, and an accident like that was understandable with
Cartwright since he was a bit clumsy. Malone is not. He is quite agile and
quick on his feet. Add that to the
By the way, I personally feel that throwing illegal elbows (called or not)
on a regular basis is dirty, even if it's just to gain an advantage. But
that's just me. Another reason to prefer the college game, I guess.
It's pretty sickening, really. The double-standard in the NBA gets worse
every year. What's really troubling is that many people will believe Malone
when he says it wasn't intentional. Why? Because he does it all the time. I
can't remember a worse incident, but Malone is one of the NBA's worst at
swinging elbows. He's gotten away with it almost every time, so this next
step is excused as well. But look at that replay again and put Askins or
Oakley in Malone's shoes. No way was that "incidental" contact. (Brian Harper)
Malone said after Monday night's incident that it wasn't intentional. "What am I supposed to do, not shoot?" he said.
>So what evidence do you have of the incidents being intentional?
For starters, did you see the elbow he threw later in the game into
Tim Duncan's back? No way that wasn't intentional. As for the
other incident, I'd say the fact that Malone's normal mode of
operation when he gets the ball in a crowd near the basket is to
start swinging his elbows is evidence enough. (Toni Morgan)
Watch any utah game. People are scared of him. It amazes me how
malone gets so many fouls called, yet many people are afraid to get near
him. And who can blame them? What makes the malone elbow so dangerous
is how he throws it. It is similar to a bear clawing a human. It would
not be so bad if malone threw a regular elbow, but malone's elbows are
really more like punches, with the joint taking the place of the fist.
You can see him wind his arm back(or forward I guess) to build up more
force when he throws it. How can he say that is then unintentional?
What is he trying to do when he "sets up" his elbow? check to see if
he's wearing deodorant?
If stern, thor ne, or the league wants to retain its credibility they
need to send this clown a message. My solution may sound rash, but what
else can be done? I think they should suspend malone for the REST OF THE
SEASON, INCLUDING PLAYOFFS. Some may disagree with this, but can we
allow ourselves to tolerate this kind of behavior? And then have him
lie about it after games? (Michael Bearden)
The Jazz as a team has been overly physical for a while. Stern wants to
>> protect the coaches but he better show some concern for the players who
>> actually do combat every day. I mean, come on, first he knocks out Robinson
>> with a very high elbow, then he throws more elbows THE SAME GAME, one to (IMHO)
>> his successor to the best power forward in the game, Tim Duncan. Commissioner
>> Stern correctly tried to send Sprewell packing after attacking PJ then
>> returning to do it again, so lets stop Malone, MVP or not, before he eliminates
>> another superstar before the playoffs.
Earrow wrote: "Don't hold your breath. I haven't seen any evidence in
>media of anyone calling Malone out for his foul play. Malone is the
>"Magic Bullet" of the NBA. Everyone turns a blind eye to the reality of
And Utah has been one of the "dirtiest" physical teams around for
a while. Malone plays more "thug-ball" than I've seen anywhere...
including some of the blacktop lots in the cities.
I'm constantly amazed as I watch players like Malone and Mourning
get away with some blatantly cheap shots and fouls. But even Mourning
doesn't carry that with him off of the court.
The difference was right there in that San Antonio game. David Robinson
is a physical player, but he plays with respect for his fellow players and
with no intent to injure anybody. He is a great athlete and a great all
around person, IMO.
Malone talks trash at the press, pushes people out of his way and
does whatever it takes on the court to muscle his way to the basket,
even if it means injuring the players around him. He is a jerk, to the
The Mailman? I don't think so. I think I'd mark that guy "Return to Sender". (Scott Smith)
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