Skip to main content

Karl Malone on the art of the pick & roll: “Shaq and Barkley were the absolute worst big men who ever played pick & roll"

Karl-Malone-Charles-Barkley

Whenever you think about Jazz legends John Stockton and Karl Malonethe term "perfect pick & roll" comes to mind. The duo had perfected the play so much that they've made the Utah Jazz perennial contenders across the 1990s. And both of them made it to the very top of the all-time record lists.

With the '90s NBA teams adapting their defenses and rotating more, Stockton & Malone adapted their favorite play and used it on a full scale in the '97 and '98 NBA finals against the Chicago Bulls.

The Jazz made it to consecutive finals eliminating such powerhouses as L.A. Lakers led by Shaquille O'Neal and Houston Rockets led by Charles Barkley. It turns that both of those superstars were on the very top of the list of players who actually hated to guard Malone in the 'pick & roll'.

“The 'pick & roll' is designed to put the pressure on people who didn't want to play it. Yeah, I am naming names right here. Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley were the absolute worst big men who ever played the 'pick & roll'! And we loved it, coming down the stretch, then you threw them in the 'pick & roll' because they didn't want to play it.”

Karl Malone, via ">NBA TV

Soon to be 57-year old Malone revealed the hidden secrets of playing the 'pick & roll successfully.' First of all, the dynamic Jazz duet started the play in the area close to the free-throw line because Stockton was particularly successful as a shooter from that area. From there, they also had an excellent overview of the situation and various potential subsequent plays.

The vital prerequisites for setting up the play were the ball handler's patience and Malone holding position in the duel with the opposing big man. With all in place, Malone walked over to set the pick.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

“The fact of the matter is that you have to play, you have to pick what defense gives you. Same as coaching - just take what the defense gives you.”

Karl Malone, via ">NBA TV

If the power forward didn't put the pressure on the Mailman, he just slipped and scored. Malone revealed one tiny but immensely significant moment in successfully making the play – he often didn't catch the ball but instead kept the dribble alive.

“I never really tried to catch the ball all the time, I just want to knock it down. So, it don't matter how fast it comes, you throw me the ball, I just knock it down.”

Karl Malone, via ">NBA TV

While he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sam Mitchell, who faced the Jazz countless times, explained that whenever his team played the Jazz, he felt much more comfortable if they were letting Malone post-up his man. With Malone in the low-post and Stockton passing him the ball, the team used Stockon's defender to double down on the Mailman before cutting through the lane.

“I never had to worry where my help is coming from. So, wherever you cut that's from where the defender was gonna come back and trap in the middle of baseline.”

Sam Mitchell, via ">NBA TV

While appearing together in an unbelievable total of 1,412 games across 18 seasons, the dynamic Jazz duo made the record books. Stockton became NBA's all-time leader in assists (15,806) and steals (3,265). Malone set the Utah Jazz franchise records in points (36,374) and rebounds (14,601).

Want to stay up to date with the latest news and reactions?Download our NBA news feed for breaking news, live stats, and game coverage.

nba-1950s-min

The story of the first and only plumber who became an NBA player

Normie Glick remains the first plumber to play an NBA game.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons is helped up by center Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid’s struggles in the final two games of the 2021 playoffs were overshadowed by Ben Simmons’ struggles, but should that have been the case?

While Joel Embiid was a huge help on offense for the 76ers against the Atlanta Hawks in their semifinals series, he averaged 4.7 turnovers throughout the series, including 16 total over the final two games

donovan-mitchell-russell-westbrook-min

The Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, and Utah Jazz have discussed a trade centered around Donovan Mitchell and Russell Westbrook

This potential trade is notable not only because it involves Mitchell getting traded off of Utah, but because it would involve the Lakers getting rid of Westbrook as well

al-harrington-willis-reed-new

"I would bust his a**!"-Al Harrington gets flamed for disrespecting an NBA legend

Harrington, who was nothing more than a role player, tried to claim he is better than a former MVP and champion. Well, he got a harsh reality check from the NBA world.

caleb-love

Who are the Early Favorites for March Madness?

Another exicting season of college basketball is ahead of us.

That time Derek FIsher came back for Game 2 in the playoffs directly from the hospital

Derek Fisher was once escorted to a playoff game by the police following his daughter's surgery in New York

Derek Fisher had his share of big-time heroics in the 2007 playoffs against the Golden State Warriors following his daughter's surgery in New York because of retinoblastoma