Karl Malone’s eye-opening 2019 comments about Michael Jordan
Back more than a year ago, “The Mailman” had some eye-opening comments about facing Jordan in the 1998 NBA Finals and coming so close to bringing the series to a Game 7 before he was stripped of a last-minute possession. That turnover turned into one of the most historic moments in NBA playoff history, as “The Last Shot” was borne from that possession.
After resisting talking about Michael Jordan at first, Malone relented once he was asked about that crucial moment in the 1998 NBA Finals:
“Why? Why do I have to (talk about that)?,” Malone responded. “But I’ll tell you this. I’m all man and I accept the responsibility for not winning one (ring). We just happened to be playing the Chicago Bulls. It wasn’t just Michael Jordan by the way, and I have the utmost respect for Michael, but I never thought I was playing Michael Jordan. I was playing the Chicago Bulls.
“Let’s not — everybody says ‘this person is a bad man’ and all that. Well yes, I give them respect, but I have a setup. I’m a man and I was a bad sonnab***h too. So that’s how I look at that and that’s how I am. Maybe in my older years I can call it that bluntly. But I’m just calling it like I see it.”
.@E60: When I say Michael Jordan, what comes to mind?
Karl Malone: pic.twitter.com/jCboMahhIM
— ESPN (@espn) May 21, 2020
Malone and Jordan used to be good friends during their playing days, but there was a certain fissure as years went by.
Jordan acknowledged he was inspired to beat the Utah Jazz in 1997 after Malone was honored with the MVP award, smack dab in the middle of Jordan’s reign in his second three-peat. The same could be said for Charles Barkley, who won MVP in 1993 after Jordan had won two straight and three of the last five.
Malone also won an MVP the year after Jordan retired a second time, becoming the oldest MVP in NBA history at 35 years old.
While he sits as the NBA’s second all-time leading scorer and has a cornucopia of awards and records to his name, that Game 6 blunder is one that still chases him to this day — even if he’s man enough to admit his error cost him a title.