SALT LAKE CITY — The Mailman is serious about delivering his knowledge to the Utah Jazz big men — until his hunting trip in November.
"To keep me from being late to practices I didn't bring my [camouflage], gun or a bow. I left them home so my focus was to come here every day." he said.
Karl Malone just wrapped up the first week of an NBA training camp as a coach. He's coaching the young big men for the Utah Jazz and trying to instill in them the same desire and skills that helped Karl climb to second on the NBA's all-time scoring list. While he is here with them, his focus is second to none. Putting these young raw talents through workouts before and after practice.
I said 'Who you protecting yourself [from]?' There's no sniper in this building! Man up! If you're hurt, see the trainer and play the game.
"The first day it was tough and trying," Malone said. "I think our big guys don't know the severity of what is in front of them and how serious this is. I wasn't a happy camper. Then — it's amazing — they came back, they're here early; they want to do things. That's rewarding to me."
Karl, of course, is 'old school' and he is trying to get used to the methods and approaches of the younger generation. In vintage Mailman style, he shared his feelings on a few things:
"I'm not concerned with your elbow pads, your knee pads, all of your garb and your full body armor. What do you need all that for? Our soldiers need that in Iraq and they're doing a hell of a job for us. Take all that off! We don't need that. What I need you to do is show up and be ready to play. That's it.
"I had one of my ‘bigs' today and he had body armor from his thigh to his neck. I ask him what he was doing and he said he was protecting himself. I said 'Who you protecting yourself [from]?' There's no sniper in this building! Man up! If you're hurt, see the trainer and play the game.
"When I played, if you came out there with a sleeve on your elbow, I won't say 'I'm going to attack it,' but you're a wounded animal and I've got to take a stab at it. I like where we're at, but let's get rid of all that and play the game, encourage your teammates," Malone said.
Despite his faux crankiness, the 'old school' Malone is finding out he likes this coaching business. As long as it doesn't interfere with his hunting trip in November.
"It's been fun, it really has." Malone admitted.