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Malone Led Complicated Relationship With Utah

Malone Led Complicated Relationship With Utah

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John Hollenhorst reportingOver the last two decades, Karl Malone became one of Utah's best-known citizens. But his blunt, outspoken personality led to a complicated relationship with the people of the state.

You couldn't call it a romance between Karl Malone and the public. It was too edgy for that. And it wasn't exactly a love-hate relationship. Let's say it was more like respect versus exasperation.

As Malone spoke inside the Delta Center, a fan waited outside, hoping to speak to him.

Karen Mott, Malone fan: "I kind of adopted him, in my own way, when his mom died. Because it broke my heart. I felt so bad."

It's one measure of a man, that others feel his pain, and care about him off the basketball floor.

Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr.: "People feel like Karl is a brother, or an uncle, like he's a next door neighbor."

Ben Meyerson, Salt Lake City Resident: "Well, I think he's a great guy. Great example. Great work ethic."

Dee Johnson Salt Lake City Resident: "I liked him. He had a job to do. He came here and played his heart out."

But he also made waves and sometimes played out his conflicts in public. There was lots of Kleenex over two decades.

Larry Miller, Jazz Owner: "An interesting experience. And I have to say a good experience, although there were a few moments along the way I probably wouldn't have described as a good experience. But the good outweighed the bad. Remarkably."

Inevitably, some just didn't like him.

Ben Leavitt, Bountiful Resident: "You know if you really want to be a part of the community, you have to, I don't know, be nice to people. I don't really want to say anything bad about him, bad karma, you know."

Malone's bluntness seemed like honesty to some, bellyaching to others. Respect AND exasperation.

Karen Mott, Malone fan:: "There was. But you know what? Karl says what's on his mind. And I respect that."

Karl Malone: "Things I said, I thought about 'em. I meant 'em. I don't take 'em back... and people that was around Karl Malone knew, at the end of the day, what they had."

Friends say Malone's financial generosity was only partly known.

Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr.: "Karl, I think has done so much for our community and, he's such, he's of iconic proportion."

Don Peay, Friend of Malone: "He never wanted any publicity. It's something most people would never know about him. But literally millions of dollars he's given to help people we're in need or he wanted to give a chance in life."

He's not through with Utah. Malone plans to sell his house in Salt Lake City, but he expects to buy a smaller residence, and spend a lot of time here on and off.

Governor Hunstman says he may even have some projects for Malone, now that the Mailman has some free time.

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