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Archive for July, 2013

In honor of Karl Malone turning 50 today, I will be giving away 50 Karl Malone basketball cards. They will be broken down into three respective 16, 17 and 17 card sets awarded to 3 different winners.

TRIVIA QUESTION #3 (9:00 PM MT/11PM ET):

To win this free 17-card Karl Malone set, be the first to answer the following Karl Malone trivia question:

Karl Malone Cards Lot #3

Who assisted Karl Malone on the final dunk of his Utah Jazz career? (including regular season and playoffs)

UPDATE 11:04PM MT (1:04AM ET): The correct answer was Greg Ostertag. Congratulations to Cman26!

Post answer in comment section below with a valid email address. The first correct response wins. Previous winners are not eligible.

TRIVIA QUESTION #2 (7:00 PM MT/9PM ET):

To win this free 17-card Karl Malone set, be the first to answer the following Karl Malone trivia question:

Karl Malone Cards Lot #2

What was the year and opponent of the final 40-point game of Karl Malone’s career (including regular season, preseason & playoffs)?

UPDATE 7:17PM MT (9:17PM ET): The correct answer is 3/12/03 at the Orlando Magic. Congratulations to Kurt! Please check your email.

Post answer in comment section below with valid email address. The first correct reply wins. Previous winner(s) are not eligible.

The last trivia opportunity will be posted here later tonight at 9:00 PM MT (11:00 PM ET).

TRIVIA QUESTION #1 (5:00 PM MT/7PM ET):

To win this free 16-card Karl Malone set, be the first to answer the following Karl Malone trivia question:

Karl Malone Cards Lot #1

In how many regular season games did Karl Malone score 50 points or more in his NBA career?

Post answer in comment section below with valid email address. The first correct reply wins.

UPDATE 5:40PM MT (7:40PM ET): The correct answer is indeed “4.” Congratulations to Dixon! Please check your email.

The next two opportunities to win will be posted here later tonight at 7:00 PM MT (9:00 PM ET) and 9:00 PM MT (11:00 PM ET).

Thanks for participating and Happy Birthday Mailman!

Karl Malone reading Jazz media guide 2002-03

Requirements: Must have valid email address and respond to my email with shipping/mailing address within 48 hours. Limit 1 card set per person.

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Karl Malone - Happy 50th Birthday

KARL MALONE CARD GIVE-AWAY

In honor of Karl Malone turning 50 today, I will be giving away 50 FREE Karl Malone basketball cards.

Karl Malone Basketball Card Giveaway

They will be broken down into 16, 17 and 17 card lots for a total of 50 divided amongst 3 different winners.

Tonight at 5:00 PM MT (7:00 PM ET), 7:00 PM MT (9:00 PM ET), and 9:00 PM MT (11:00 PM ET), I will be posting 3 Karl Malone trivia questions here at Jazzbasketball. The first person to answer each question correctly in the comment section wins.

Requirements: Must have valid email address and respond to my email with a mailing address within 48 hours. Limit 1 card set per person.

7 DAYS OF MAILMAN APPRECIATION

Today wraps up a week-long marathon of Jazzbasketball Karl Malone content. Here are quick-links to the past 7 days of Malone posts and videos.

THE ULTIMATE POWER FORWARD

Low-Post Scoring
Perimeter Shooting
Individual Defense
Running The Floor
Passing
Pick&Roll Ability

MALONE MEMORY LANE (Youtube Videos)

42 Points at Lakers – 1997 Conference Semifinals – Game 4
1998 Family Life of Karl Malone
1999 Karl Malone on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
41 Points at 76ers – 12/20/00
2001 Karl Malone cooking on The Food Network
2002 Karl Malone and John Stockton Feature

HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY KARL!

Karl Malone is the primary reason I became a Utah Jazz fan. Growing up I knew both Karl and John Stockton were great players, but it wasn’t until my teens that I truly appreciated Stock’s greatness at the same level of Malone’s. Initially Karl’s ability to score with grace and power is what drew me in and for most of my life was my favorite professional athlete to follow. Growing up I would record Jazz games, study Karl’s moves and then go out in my driveway and practice them over-and-over. I know his game inside out and as a result have nothing but admiration and appreciation for his ability, his effort, his work ethic and his competitiveness.

Above all, Karl Malone was human – and in my opinion a good one at that. We aren’t drawn to professional athletes because they’ve made perfect decisions throughout their lives – we’re drawn to them because of their athletic abilities and talents. Karl made mistakes, as we all do. However he owned up to them, remained true to himself, was extremely generous with both his time and money, and perhaps most importantly – he was real. You knew that what you saw was who he was – that was something we could all relate to.

Michael Jordan certainly isn’t any great philanthropist, but he was a once-in-a-generation talent and ESPN dedicated seemingly an entire week in February for MJ’s 50th birthday. Growing up I admired Karl Malone (still do), and it’s been a pleasure to spend the past week compiling and sharing my appreciation of Karl Malone.

Without him, there would certainly be fewer Jazz fans out there.
Happy birthday Karl, the greatest power forward to ever play the game. I know Malone’s caught plenty of fish, but he’s the one who hooked me on the Utah Jazz – and I wouldn’t trade them for any other team in the world. Along with John Stockton and Jerry Sloan, Karl made the Utah Jazz into a truly great franchise. Now as he works with Utah’s promising young bigs, let’s hope he can help make them great once again.

Karl Malone

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Karl Malone - The Ultimate Power Forward

This is Part 6 of “The Ultimate Power Forward” series, detailing several of the key components that made Karl Malone the greatest power forward to ever play the game.

For all of the diverse offensive skills (which have been covered extensively here over the past week) Karl Malone possessed that helped make him the second-leading scorer in NBA history, perhaps no play became as synonymous to the Mailman scoring than the pick-and-roll.

Of course, it’s impossible to talk about Karl Malone running screen-roll without mentioning his Hall-of-Fame pick&roll partner: John Stockton. Together, Stockton&Malone put on nearly a two decade-long clinic of how to run the pick&roll. Any type of defense they faced within the rules, they would counter and execute. It starts with Stockton, who had supreme court vision, the ability to pass accurately and quickly (thanks to his ability to pass off the dribble with one hand rather than two) and was an excellent shooter off the bounce. Malone always set a rock solid screen and combined his mobility, great hands and supreme ability to finish with both power and skill around the basket – was the ultimate finisher. Together, Stockton&Malone were simply unstoppable on the pick&roll.

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Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #1a

In traditional side-screen roll, Stockton’s first read is always to go middle behind Malone’s screen – whose own read was to roll to the basket if the weakside help doesn’t come, or “pop” out on the baseline for the jumper if the help-defense rotates to shut off the paint.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #1b

Here Malone’s man shows out on Stockton and the weakside help is slow. Malone rolls unimpeded to the rim and skillfully finishes over Kobe who is late in his rotation.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #2a

On this play, the Chicago Bulls force the pick&roll baseline (a defensive staple of Phil Jackson coached teams). Utah counters with Malone simply re-screening to allow Stockton to drive baseline. This forces Malone’s man to help on Stockton and allows Karl to turn and roll uncontested to the rim.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #2b

Chicago’s weakside help defense is slow to react and Malone has a wide-open lane to drive for the hammer dunk.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #2c

Here in the same situation, Chicago’s help-defense reacts to clog the lane. As a result, instead of rolling – Malone simply pulls up from the elbow and drains the open 18-footer.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #3a

Here against Houston, Stockton’s man decides to go under on the screen so Stockton knows he’ll have a clean look from the foul line area if the big doesn’t show out.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #3b

The Rockets choose to stay with the screener (Malone), so Stockton simply pulls up and hits the open foul-line jumper.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #4a

After playing together for 10+ seasons, Stockton&Malone developed a sixth sense for knowing when to slip the screen. Here, they again show their standard side screen-roll.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #4b

Instead of setting the screen, Malone slips right to the rim. Because Stockton could pass so well off-the-bounce, his trademark one-hand pass right by his defender’s ear leads Malone perfectly and the Mailman makes an excellent one-handed catch on the move and promptly finishes strong at the rim for a three-point play.

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As Doug Collins said, “Whatever you show them, they counter it.” In the 90’s most offenses in the NBA were based more on isolation and post-ups than predominantly screen-roll. Now in 2013, with rule changes virtually every successful team relies on running the pick&roll to some degree of success. Guards are taught the nuances of the play at much earlier ages, and come into the league more skilled in that area. Nevertheless, the pick&roll bar set by Stockton&Malone has yet to be eclipsed. They did it longer, better, and more proficiently than any other duo in NBA history. Everyone knew it was coming, and they still couldn’t stop it.

Stockton and Malone PickandRoll #1

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Karl Malone - The Ultimate Power Forward

This is Part 5 of “The Ultimate Power Forward” series, detailing several of the key components that made Karl Malone the greatest power forward to ever play the game.

Karl Malone not only made himself into a versatile scorer, he made himself into one of the best passing bigs in the game.

Despite the fact that much of Utah’s offense ran directly through Karl Malone (in both the high-post and low-post), the Jazz were still able to move the ball beautifully and keep everyone involved. That is a testament to Utah’s system which utilized Malone’s offensive presence to create a deadly combination that coupled constant off-ball movement with the Mailman’s deft passing ability.

Guard Split #1

1. After feeding Malone in the post, Utah’s perimeter players stayed in motion. Here Utah runs their split-action with #34 Chris Morris feeding the post, then setting an off-ball screen for Howard Eisley (circled). This forces the opponent to switch, with Kobe Bryant (red arrows) showing out on Howard Eisley. Morris sets the screen then slips to the basket.

Guard Split #2

2. Because Morris is coming ‘up’ to set the screen, he already has a positional advantage on the switch so all Malone has to do is lead him to the rim.

Guard Split #3

Karl Malone makes a perfect pass to Morris for a layup. Because teams now had to pay attention to Utah’s off-ball action, this in turn slowed down double-teaming and gave Malone more room to operate in the post.

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Another staple of Utah’s low-post offense was the hard baseline cut by the post-feeder.

Karl Malone baseline cut 1a

Here, Chris Morris enters the ball to Malone, then makes a hard V-cut along the baseline.

Karl Malone baseline cut 1b

Morris’ man gets caught top-side which gives Malone and Morris an uncontested dribble-handoff.

Karl Malone baseline cut 1c

As a result, Morris is the recipient of a wide-open layup.

As with virtually everything in basketball, the defense will react and it is up to the offense to counter – and Malone and the Jazz did just that.

Karl Malone baseline cut 2a

Here, the post defender (#40 Kurt Thomas) sags back to take away the hard baseline cut. This causes Thomas to lose contact with Malone in the post and provides plenty of airspace for Malone to pivot and hit his patented turn-around jumpshot. This is a great example of how the passing ability of a low-post scorer actually creates a shot opportunity instead of the other way around.

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Karl Malone averaged over 4 assists per game seven times during his illustrious career, and his ability to pass the basketball not only made his teammates better – it created even more offensive opportunities for himself.

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Karl Malone - The Ultimate Power Forward

This is Part 4 of “The Ultimate Power Forward” series, detailing several of the key components that made Karl Malone the greatest power forward to ever play the game.

After changing ends of the court to breakdown Karl Malone’s outstanding defense, let’s examine how the Mailman changed ends of the court by running the floor harder, faster and more consistently than any big man in the history of the NBA.
(Recommendation: As you watch this video, don’t “ball-watch.” Instead focus on Malone and note how hard he runs and how many opposing players he glides passed en route to the basket)

Most bigs will run hard only when they begin a possession with a positional advantage against their opponents’ transition defense. Karl Malone ran hard regardless of his starting point – and as a result ran himself to easy baskets simply by blowing past multiple defenders (and teammates) on his 94-foot sprint to the rim.

Karl Malone running the floor #1a

1. Here, Malone is further away from Utah’s basket than all 9 other players on the court when Utah gains possession.

Karl Malone running the floor #1b

2. Nevertheless, Malone gets a step on Scott Pollard and then blows past Chris Webber and two other Kings en route to a layup and 3-point play opportunity as Pollard arrives just in time to foul Malone but not prevent the basket.

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Karl Malone not only ran hard, but he ran wide – which is becoming a lost art in today’s game. The Jazz’s inability to covert 2-on-1 and 3-on-1 fastbreaks was maddening at times last season, and while most fans automatically blame the ball-handler for the failures, the players filling the lanes are often just as much at fault if not more so.

Similar to running an option or bubble-screen to both the boundary side and field sides in college football (wider hashes compared to the pro game), running lanes wide in basketball stretches the defense laterally by forcing them to cover all the entire width of the field. Not only does it create better passing lanes, it can also creates room for the point guard to attack 1-on-1 in transition when the defense expands outward.

Karl malone running wide #1a

1. Here, Utah takes possession with Malone in the center of the court. Rather than take the easy route and plod directly down the middle (the shortest path between two points is a straight line, right?) Malone re-directs toward the sideline.

Karl malone running wide #1b

2. Malone runs the boundary, creating as much separation from the ball (which should ideally always stay in the middle of the floor on a break) as possible.

Karl malone running wide #1c

3. This forces the lone defender back (Avery Johnson – circled) to guard virtually 40-feet with two Jazz players filling the lanes wide. Stockton hits Malone on the wing for an easy layup.

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One more example of “running wide” to help the passer and put extreme pressure on the defense.

Karl malone running wide #2a

1. Utah gets the rebound and rather than running a direct path to the Jazz basket, Malone veers out wide (about an extra 15-20 feet) to run parallel to the sideline.

Karl malone running wide #2b

2. This puts the lone defender back (Damon Stoudamire – circled) in a virtually impossible 2-on-1 situation, with a 25-30 foot lateral gap between the ball and Malone.

Karl malone running wide #2c

3. Because of Utah’s excellent floor-spacing on the break, Stoudamire is unable to play both the ball and the pass and Stockton has a clear passing window to hit Malone for the layup.

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With Karl Malone back tutoring Utah’s bigs on a part-time basis, I look forward to seeing how Utah’s big guys fill the lane in the upcoming season – especially since it appears to be a point of emphasis that Karl made clear in his radio interview the day he and Greg Miller announced the Mailman’s new role.

Karl Malone teaching Derrick Favors

(courtesy of Jazzfanatical)

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As the late Larry H. Miller often pointed out, Karl Malone not only ran hard to get easy baskets, he ran hard to set the tempo and punish his opponent.

Real observers of Karl will know that the real way he punishes an opponent is to get out on a fastbreak that they have no intenion of passing the ball to him, but his opponent doesn’t know that – so Karl will sprint down the court two or three times in succession – which to Karl is not that difficult but to most opponents – they can’t handle it …and they get to where it often renders them neutral on a couple of plays until they can [regain] their breath.” -Larry H. Miller, A First Class Life

Karl Malone was the best running big man in NBA history because he was not only relentless – but consistently faster, in better condition, and more aware of how to fill open lanes than his opponents. A lot of that is because Malone was a phenomenal athlete, but some of that can be learned and it would be awesome if a Derrick Favors or Enes Kanter can develop a similar understanding and mentality to punish their opponent not only with physicality, but with speed and cardiovascular endurance.

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Karl Malone on Jay Leno Show 1999

In June of 1999, Karl Malone made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he appeared multiple times throughout the late-90’s.

In many ways, Karl Malone’s rise to a celebrity status flies in the face of the myth that the small market Utah Jazz are unable to meet the needs of an NBA superstar. While Karl definitely embraced Utah as the perfect place to grow up and raise a family, he also wrestled, flew in fighter jets, made his own fitness video series, and made guest appearances on The Tonight Show as well as TV shows such as Nash Bridges – all while also making himself into the greatest power forward to ever play the game.

While the case can certainly be made more off-court opportunities are available in bigger markets, the bottom line is if you’re good enough at the game of basketball and intriguing enough as a public figure – opportunities will be available regardless of where you play.

In an era where the internet, social media, and satellite tv had yet to make many superstars as accessible to fans as they are today, the persona of Karl Malone was big enough that “playing in Utah” didn’t stifle his marketability. Karl Malone was able to play basketball at the highest possible level, become a celebrated public figure, and still live his life on his terms while playing in Utah for 18 seasons.

Instead of worrying about their “brand,” many of today’s star athletes could take a lesson from Karl Malone and focus more about being as good as they can possibly be, because if they have the game to back it up – they’ll reap the off-court benefits that come from being a superstar in the NBA. If you don’t have the game of a “superstar” but seek the notoriety of one, you’ll simply be exposed. And for what it’s worth, I haven’t seen any moody former Jazz point guards appear on any of the late shows recently.

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Karl Malone - The Ultimate Power Forward

This is Part 3 of “The Ultimate Power Forward” series, detailing several of the key components that made Karl Malone the greatest power forward to ever play the game.
After revisiting the Mailman’s offensive repertoire, let’s switch ends of the floor and look back at Karl Malone’s outstanding defense – which earned him 1st-team All-Defensive honors three times (tied for most ever in franchise history) as well as a one 2nd-team honor.

At 6-foot-9, Karl Malone was never an above-the-rim shot-blocker. Instead, Karl played phenomenal fundamental and physical defense that forced turnovers and frustrated his opponents. Malone’s superior strength not only allowed him to defend elite centers, it made it extremely difficult for opponents to back him down in the post. Karl utilized this to his advantage, mastering the “pull-the-chair” technique. Malone would hold his position defensively and then suddenly give ground, causing the offensive player to lose his balance and travel.

The hallmark of Karl Malone’s defensive ability was his quick hands. He was notorious for stripping offensive players of the ball as they went up into their shot, and developed an uncanny ability to gauge an offensive player’s shot-pocket and meet the ball on the way up to force the tie-up. He was also an active pick&roll defender who depending upon Utah’s defensive strategy, could aggressively show-out off screens. For a player of his size and strength, Malone also moved his feet well laterally – as he was adept at sliding in front of his man to draw a abnormal number of charges off low-post plays.

Karl Malone not only delivered the mail at the offensive end, he also brought it at the defensive end as well – with defensive intensity, aggression, and double-digit rebounding. His technique and crafty maneuvers remain a prime example that just because a big man may not possess superior size or length, it is still possible to be an outstanding defender simply from hard work, intelligence, technique and effort.

Karl Malone strips Tim Duncan

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