As far as greatest NBA duos go, many still consider Utah Jazz legends Karl Malone and John Stockton as the best to ever do it. Over the years, we’ve heard several NBA players rave about the pair, but none of them gave a Malone-Stockton testimonial quite as epic as former Jazz center Greg Ostertag.
It’s an honor to play with two of the best ever
For those who didn’t know, Ostertag may be freakishly big from the outside, but he's a playful kid inside. In fact, during an exclusive interview with The Salt Lake Tribune in 2017, Ostertag jokingly said that Malone and Stockton were two of the greatest of all time, but it was them who should be honored to have played with him.
“It was so much fun,” Ostertag said of his time with the Jazz. “The only thing we didn’t do right was win [the championship]. I’m honored because I got to play with two of the best ever. They should be honored because they got to play with me [laughs].”
On a serious note, Ostertag went on and revealed that in terms of work ethic, no one matched that of Malone and Stockton.
“[Stockton and Malone] were two guys who came to work every day,” he added. “They worked hard at practice, on their own, in the summertime, you’re never going to find anyone who worked as hard as Karl did. … If any young player wanted to follow any players, it would be those two. Great work ethic.”
Greg knew he blew it
At 7-foot-2 and 280 pounds, Ostertag often towered over everybody on the court. However, then-Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan, and even Ostertag himself, knew he wasn’t utilizing his advantage most of the time.
Sloan frequently yelled at Ostertag, but he didn’t fully understand why. But looking back at it, “Tag” realized that he was blowing it all along, and he regrets it even to this day.
“The thing I’ve learned now that I’m older and wiser is that all those times Jerry [Sloan] was yelling at me, it wasn’t his fault, it was my fault,” he admitted. “I was young and dumb. I thought I knew everything.”
“Looking back, I blew that,” he added. “I know Jerry only wanted the best for me…I just didn’t have the work ethic I needed to have.”
Having heard Ostertag reflect on his mistake, it’s kind of hard not to think, what if he was able to grasp all of that during Malone and Stockton’s prime? Would that change anything? Possibly, but we can only imagine.