Karl Malone was a prominent figure during the recently-concluded NBA All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City. The Hall of Famer is widely considered as one of, if not the greatest player in Utah Jazz franchise history, which is why it comes as no surprise that he made a handful of appearances throughout the weekend.
Malone was even honored at halftime of the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night. He joined Los Angeles Lakers icons LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on stage as the league tipped his hat to LeBron for breaking the all-time scoring record. Unfortunately, Malone’s prominence during the weekend has also led to the resurfacing of a highly controversial scandal involving the Jazz legend, the late, great Kobe Bryant, and his wife, Vanessa Bryant.
A recent article by Rolling Stone details Malone’s allegedly inappropriate behavior toward Vanessa way back in 2004. At that time, Karl was teammates with Kobe with the Lakers, and the pair actually formed quite a bond both on and off the court. This is exactly why Kobe felt “very hurt and betrayed” when he learned about Malone’s indiscretion.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, who at that time served as Kobe’s agent, revealed the details of the incident as well as the aftermath of what turned out to be a high-profile falling apart not only between Kobe and Malone, but their families as well:
“When (Vanessa) called, Karl’s response was, ‘Why don’t you come over here and sit next to me and give me a big hug?’ Vanessa said, ‘Why? For what?’ And Karl replied, ‘If you do that it will be on the cover of every magazine in the country,'” Pelinka said as he described Malone’s behavior on November 23, 2004, during a Lakers home game against the Bucks, via ESPN.
Malone supposedly took it a step further as he continued to flirt with Vanessa, which the latter deemed to be highly inappropriate:
“From there Malone asked Vanessa if she could keep a secret, and that he would like to tell her something. At which point Vanessa told him she was a married woman and he was a married man who was old enough to be her father. To which Malone replied, ‘Oh, like your daddy?’ At that point she told me she ended the conversation,” Pelinka said.
It did not end there, though. Karl Malone supposedly took one final shot at Vanessa at the end of the game:
“Vanessa told me that she just was very uncomfortable at halftime and that Karl was acting and saying weird things,” said Pelinka. “When the game ended, Vanessa walked Malone’s son back to Karl. She told me that she asked Malone why he was wearing that [cowboy] hat. His response was, ‘I’m hunting for young Mexican girls.’ At which point Vanessa just walked away.”
Vanessa told Kobe about the incident on their way home after. Bryant reportedly called Malone immediately:
“Kobe told me that Karl just listened and didn’t deny any of it. Kobe said Karl’s only reply was, ‘You know me, man.’ To which Kobe told him, ‘That’s right, I do know you — and stay away from my wife,'” said Pelinka. “The next day, with all four of them on the phone, Karl denied it. At that point the Bryants knew that there was nothing left to talk about since they knew Karl wasn’t telling the truth. Vanessa told me that she told Kay that she [Vanessa] wanted her [Kay] to know ‘just exactly what your husband [Karl] did, and you do what you want with the information.'”
There’s no denying that Karl Malone is one of the greatest to ever lace it up. However, this is not the only controversy he has been involved in through the years. Be it true or not, the fact that he’s been linked to such scandalous behavior speaks volumes about the type of person this man truly is.