one-on-one with nba legend karl malone
M&F: Your latest basketball honor was the ultimate one: Hall of Fame induction. What was that like?
KM: When you start playing the game of basketball, you never go out there saying your goal is to be in the Hall of Fame and all that. You just do what you do. Obviously you can’t vote for yourself—so that’s for your peers—but to be able to be selected to a fraternity like that is the top of the top. You can’t get cut; you can’t get traded. To visit there and see who’s in the Hall of Fame, and you’re one of those guys—it’s pretty awesome.
M&F: How did you manage to play for so long [18 seasons with the Jazz] and miss only five games for health reasons over the course of your career?
KM: My weight training. I will tell you and anyone who cares to know that my conditioning in the off-season was what allowed me to play so many games, because I didn’t let my body get out of shape. It was harder than my in-season training. I knew once the season started, all I had to do was maintain. If I didn’t lift weights, I don’t think I would’ve had the career I had. Matter of fact, I know it. When you lift weights at a high level with the little aches and pains, you’re just going to say, “It’s not tougher than that iron.”
M&F: What about your time on the Dream Team? That may have been the best basketball team ever assembled. How confident were you suiting up with Bird, Magic, Jordan, and all those guys?
KM: No disrespect to the other countries or teams, but we felt that every day in practice. When we broke up into teams, those were the best teams in the world— whichever team you were on in practice. I remember one time, one of the coaches came in trying to put on game film of the team we were getting ready to play, and every time he’d walk out we’d turn it off. The coach came through four or five times, and basically what we were saying to him was that we don’t need to watch that. We’ve got two Olympic teams right here. It was just unbelievable being on a team like that.
M&F: What career moment sticks out the most?
KM: Coming from a small town and going to a city. Allowing [myself] to grow up and become a man and become my own man. That’s my favorite memory—that and playing with athletes who were professional about their careers. That’s the most important thing.