Even though Karl Malone never won an NBA championship, he had a tremendous impact on the game of basketball and is still, to this day, the second-leading scorers in NBA history. His longevity was impressive, and the fact he spent almost his entire career with only one franchise. After playing 18 seasons for the Utah Jazz, Malone joined the Lakers, where they formed a “Big Four” with Kobe, Shaq, and Gary Payton. He was close to getting his first NBA championship, but the Detroit Pistons were a much better team that series. Malone retired after that season at the age of 40.
Nevertheless, Malone’s game was extremely effective, and a lot of the younger power forwards coming to the league back then looked up to him. In an earlier interview on NBC from 2000, a young Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett talked about all the things they learned from Malone. It’s fascinating to hear Duncan’s and Garnett’s thoughts on Malone, especially now when even both of them are retired from the NBA.
Duncan said the most important thing for him was playing against Malone and picking up one thing after another, which helped him improve his game. One of the things Duncan stressed out is Malone’s strength, incredible conditioning for a man of his size, and his ability to draw contact quickly.
“I think just playing against him. He goes hard every possession. Whenever he is out there, he is defending and slapping the ball. He is finding every little way to get stuff done. Some of us are bigger, but nobody is that much stronger. He is running the position and getting his body into you, drawing fouls. I learned a lot of that from him.”
Same as Duncan, Kevin Garnett also had the opportunity to compete against Malone for several seasons. Garnett believes Malone is a real tough guy who is relentless on both ends of the court.
“There is one thing I would like to take from him. One year for two straight quarters, we were scoring back and forth, back and forth, and he never stopped running. Just as you thought, he is a little tired, or I am a little tired. He was just sprinting. One thing I would like to take from him is just to suck it up and push it out.”