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“Aww, this motherfu**ker soft right here” — Kenyon Martin recalls going at Karl Malone

14-year-old Kenyon Martin watched Karl Malone's violent elbow give Isiah Thomas 14 stitches as well as a bloody face. When the opportunity to avenge his idol arrived, Martin didn't miss it.
Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone and Kenyon Martin

Karl Malone and Kenyon Martin

In 1991, Karl Malone was involved in a controversial play against Detroit “Bad Boys” Pistons leader Isiah Thomas. Malone, who played for the Utah Jazz at that time, elbowed Thomas in the left eye, who was attempting to drive to the basket for a layup.

The violent elbow caused Thomas 14 stitches as well as a bloody face. The same flagrant foul also caused an altercation between both teams, as Thomas’ teammates weren’t happy with what they classified as malicious intent from Malone.

Until today, Malone still claims that he didn’t mean any harm to Thomas and that it was just a normal foul. However, little did the Hall-Of-Famer know that there was a 14-year-old kid that was watching him on that night, and he made it a goal to exact revenge if he got the opportunity to face Malone one day.

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Kenyon Martin took it personally with Malone.

So when Kanyon Martin got to the league and began his career with the New Jersey Nets, he brought it to Malone when he faced him. In one of their first few matches against each other, the young player did exactly what Malone did to Thomas years before — elbow him on the head. Martin attempted to block Malone’s layup but instead caught him at the back of his head.

Ya’ll remembered when Karl Malone elbowed Isiah Thomas and split him open? Remember that? Isiah was leaking, right? This was way before I was ever in the league and I never thought I was going to be in the NBA to begin with. But I remember he had him leaking right?” Martin shared in his recent appearance on the “All the Smoke” podcast.

We playing Utah, we in Jersey. The great John Stockton dropped that thing to him. I go right inside to Karl Malone and boom, lay him out, and he didn’t get up. I do nothing. I was like, ‘Aww, this motherfu**cker soft right here.’ Jerry Sloan, God rest that man soul, told me, ‘Oh you motherf**cker I’ll kick your' and he tried to take up for Karl, and Karl didn’t do nothing, and I was like… But that was psychology. This all happened way later. It was wired in my brain,” Martin added.

Martin admitted that was for Zeke

When some players say that they take things personally, they really do. In this case, Martin (who looked up to Thomas growing up) backed up his word and got Malone back years later. In fairness to Martin, Malone approached the game in a certain physical way, so all Martin wanted to do was give Karl a taste of his own medicine. And just like what Malone felt with his incident with Thomas, Kenyon didn’t regret his cheap shot.

Ultimately, Martin felt motivated to get Malone back because of the memory that stayed with him when he first watched the Utah Jazz forward do it to Isiah when he was 14 years old. And after all those years, Martin got the satisfaction of standing up for Zeke. 

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