Karl Malone’s NBA career did not end the way it should’ve been and definitely not the way he wanted. Malone signed with the LA Lakers in 2003-04, hoping to finally win an NBA title.
That 2003-04 Laker team could have been a great one, winning fourth straight NBA title, but it never happened.
Shaquille O’Neal was out of shape that season, and Bryant was fighting rape charges on some off days in a Colorado courthouse, and Malone sprained his knee during the season. The Lakers managed to reach the finals, where Malone hurt that same knee again during that series, and Pistons defeated the Lakers in five games.
What the fans still remember about that season is Malone’s conflict with LA Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant. The issue was about… Bryant’s wife.
On Nov. 23, the night the Lakers played the Bucks at Staples Center, Vanessa, Bryant’s wife, was talking on the phone to Malone’s wife, Kaye. Kaye gave Vanessa her husband’s cellphone number, and Vanessa called Malone, who was sitting at courtside, and invited Malone’s child to join her.
Malone, wearing cowboy boots and a hat, eventually took the child to Vanessa. Vanessa asked Malone “Hey, cowboy, what are you hunting?”
Malone responded with ‘I’m hunting for little Mexican girls.’ “
After the game Vanessa told Bryant that Malone had come on to her, and said several inappropriate things. She also told Bryant that she had called Malone’s wife and asked Kaye to get her husband away from her. Bryant called Malone on his cellphone after the game, and Bryant laid into Malone. Bryant said Malone didn’t have much to say in return and didn’t deny anything.
Now, Malone recalled the story, and also said something else to spark the old issue.
“We had a little issue,” Malone told host Marc Lamont Hill on Huffington Post. “I don’t hold grudges … I love Westerns. I’m old-school Western. Back in the day, when you had a beef, you didn’t go get guns and knives … we just go back in the back with no cameras and knuckle up. Get it over with.”
Hill pressed Malone if he offered Bryant that route to resolution.
“It’s a standing offer,” Malone said. “Look, I don’t want no trouble. I don’t have a problem. People say whatever they want to say and that’s great. I’m 6-9, 272 [pounds] to be exact. I’m not hard to find. I don’t want no trouble. But if something got to go down, I’m not playing fair.”
Either way, it would’ve been interesting to see Malone fighting Bryant today, when they’re both older, recovering from suffered injuries.
Malone spent his first 18 seasons (1985–2003) in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Utah Jazz and formed a formidable duo with his teammate John Stockton.
He was a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a 14-time NBA All-Star, and an 11-time member of the All-NBA first team. The Hall of Famer Malone played a total of 1476 NBA games (starting in 1471), holding career averages of 25.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg and 3.6 apg in 37.2 minutes of playing time.
Malone scored the second most career points in NBA history (36,298), and holds the records for most free throws attempted and made. He is generally considered one of the greatest NBA power forwards.
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