Thank goodness Karl Malone is back in the NBA as a special assistant with the Utah Jazz. The game needs him.
Malone, the oldest of old-schoolers, has been working with Jazz big men Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors since the summer, and it hasn’t been a walkthrough for the talented but raw youngsters. Malone arrived grumpy and called the first day “tough and trying,” and apparently he has not let up.
Kanter and Favors have been receptive to Malone’s taskmaster ways, however, and don’t expect to see either of them wearing a lot of the full-body padding that has slowly become popular around the league.
“I’m not concerned with your elbow pads, your knee pads, all of your garb and your full body armor,” Malone told reporters. “What do you need all that for? Our soldiers need that in Iraq and they’re doing a hell of a job for us. Take all that off! We don’t need that. What I need you to do is show up and be ready to play. That’s it.
“I had one of my bigs today and he had body armor from his thighs to his neck. I ask him what he was doing and he said he was protecting himself. I said, ‘Who you protecting yourself [from]?’ There’s no sniper in the building! Man up!”
Malone went on to say that if he saw an opposing player come out with anything as small as a compression sleeve when he played, he would treat it like “a wounded animal. … I’ve got to take a stab at it.” And Malone knows all about wounded animals. He already has a big hunting trip planned for November, so time is of the essence in his tutoring sessions.
Now if we can only arrange for Malone to meet with some of those baseball players who encase their upper bodies in plastic armor when they come up to bat, sports will be fixed.