4 Reasons Why There Will Never Be Another Karl Malone in the NBA
In most cases, I’m not a fan in dealing with black-and-white absolutes. Records that are seen as impossible to break get broken. A player is deemed the best ever, only to have another come along and do everything better than their predecessor. “Never” is seldom an accurate statement in the sports universe.
Keep in mind that a player may come along or even already be in the NBA who can replicate Malone in one or even two areas, but there is not nor will there ever be a player who can do everything Malone did as well as he did it for as long as he did it.
Malone’s amazing ability to stay healthy is something that is rarely seen; especially for a power forward.
As impressive as former teammate John Stockton’s consistency was, Malone’s was even more remarkable considering he had a considerably higher amount of weight pounding his knees every time Malone hit the court after skying for a rebound or throwing down a hammer dunk.
Malone can attribute the small handful of games he missed in his 18-year career to perpetually being in phenomenal shape. I’m not just talking basketball shape; I’m talking could-be-on-the-cover-of Muscle & Fitness magazine-ripped.
For Utah Jazz fans, few memories are fonder than Stockton drilling Malone in stride after the two must have communicated telepathically to set the picture-perfect pass up. However, being the contrarian that I am, I always look back wistfully on the many times when the two reversed roles.
Malone would catch the ball in the low post with his back to the basket. At this point in the
game, Malone more than likely would have burned his defender by beating them off the dribble to the rim or hitting his beautifully unstoppable turnaround jumper, so the defense would likely be bringing over another defender to help.
And the Mailman would make them pay.
Malone would fire a no-look pass over his shoulder to a cutting Stockton for an easy layup.
Size and Athleticism
Malone is the all-time leader in free throws made and attempted for a good reason; he was damn near impossible to guard. Play him close and a quick first step could put a quick and rim-shaking end to that particular possession.
And forget about blocking Malone when he was going for a dunk. Once he started the motion, the ball was going in the basket. Defenders had a better chance having their arm torn off than they did stuffing Malone.
Playing off was no great option either. If you gave Malone any cushion, he would simply show off his swingman’s range and nail 20-footers consistently. Take into consideration the fact that he could do this facing up or with his back to the basket and you have a near impossible task to guard Malone.
Last, but not least, you can’t wax poetic about Malone’s greatness without mentioning the Cheech to his Chong, the peanut butter to his jelly and the yin to his yang, John Stockton.
Stockton and Malone were the perfect combo: a supremely skilled and unselfish point guard
who makes everyone around him better and a freakishly athletic and powerful power forward with a sweet stroke and a knack for scoring.
There was no better facilitator in the NBA than Stockton, and there was no better diverse scoring option than Malone. Together they drove each other to heights that would previously have been unattainable.