Karl Malone tells current NBA players to get off his lawn

Old guys are getting crotchety again.

Whether it’s Oscar Robertson criticizing Steph Curry or Goose Gossage blasting Bryce Harper, every six months or so we’re graced with the glorious soundbite (or these days, Tweet) from athletes of yesteryear cracking back at the ones of today.

Karl Malone is the latest to be struck with a nasty case of “Get Off My Lawn” syndrome.

Known as “The Mailman” because he always delivered (except in those two NBA Finals against Michael Jordan), Malone rarely took a night off.  He is the game’s second all-time leading scorer (behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and is fourth all-time in games played (behind Robert Parrish, Kareem and former teammate John Stockton).

Apparently, Malone isn’t too keen on current NBA stars taking nights off.  Saturday night he told ESPN’s Sage Steele just that.  “If you don’t have at least ten years [of] experience, get your ass playin’,” said Malone in response the Cavs’ big three not playing in a nationally televised game.  ESPN/ABC’s latest attempt to attract fans by airing games on Saturday night prime time has backfired considering the Golden State Warriors rested their starters in the same time slot in San Antonio one week ago.


It’s becoming more common these days for NBA teams to rest their players during the regular season.  One might even consider it a strategic maneuver.  How can you properly prepare for a team in the post-season if you haven’t faced them at full strength?  Gregg Popovich has been criticized in the past for resting his aging veterans, thinking a night off or two would have them more playoff ready.  These moves seem logical for teams vying for a championship.  Furthermore, statistics show that those playing in games on consecutive days are far more prone to injury.

Another perfectly valid argument is that it shorts fans of a true NBA experience.

Let’s say for example that you and I live in Orlando.  When the NBA schedule comes out, knowing we might not get another chance to see Tim Duncan play before he retires, you and I spend top dollar on tickets to see the Spurs when they come to town, as they’ll do only once a season.  Months in advance, we spend hundreds of dollars on those tickets only to find out the night before the Pop, confident that San Antonio can beat Orlando without his superstars, will not be playing Tim Duncan.  The tickets we dumped all that money on are now worthless.

I’m pretty sure when Malone made his latest comments, cracking on players for not playing a full schedule, he wasn’t talking about Tim Duncan, who is now retired.  In fact, I’m not too sure Malone mentioned anyone by name.  But it was definitely an old schooler sounding off in old school fashion.  Anyone who has ever watched Malone play or heard him speak should not be the least bit surprised.

Today’s is a kinder, gentler NBA with nary a fight.  Back-to-back nights featuring scuffles between Curry vs. Westbrook and Brook Lopez vs. Serge Ibaka were head-turning in their rarity.  Everyone now wears suits and ties and does family-friendly, insurance commercials.  They also don’t play full schedules.

Malone has every right to speak his mind.  The back of his basketball card speaks for itself.  The guy was also a freak of nature, always keeping his body in tip-top shape.  Even if he did come off sounding a little Eastwoodian, Malone’s comments sparked a conversation that needed to be had.

The NBA has a problem on its hands.  In one hand, they have teams trying to manage their resources and best put themselves in a position to win a championship.  In the other, they’re trying to keep their fans happy.  Fans know Orlando isn’t winning a championship any time soon.  The only highlight of their season might be when Steph Curry comes to town.  Not to mention the fact that resting players indicates certain regular season games are, shall we say, not that important.

If it’s one thing the NBA doesn’t like, it’s bad press.  The league is pretty proficient about resolving these issues.  Commissioner Silver has already advised teams to tread lightly when it comes to sitting players.  This off-season, owners and players will look into how to best ensure all interests (i.e., fans, owners, players, advertisers) are taken into account.  It seems extreme to make players not on injured reserve play all their road games but that’s a distinct possibility if it involves a) not alienating fans and b) not alienating ESPN and Turner Sports, who just ponied up $24 billion (with a b!!!) for the rights to show their product.

Considering the players are seeing a fair portion of that money, it’s not too much to ask they show up in uniform on a night they’re feeling a little weary, at least if you ask Karl Malone.

In the end, this is all much ado about nothing.  The players will get back to playing, the league will stretch the season out even longer and league veterans will find something else to complain about.

They always do.

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18 Replies to “Karl Malone tells current NBA players to get off his lawn”

  1. I bought tickets to see the Spurs/Magic in February. My son is a giant fan of the Spurs. He loves Leonard. This was my biggest fear was him not playing. He did play a fair bit and scored 21 or 22 so my son was somewhat pleased. Of course Pop could have easily sat him as it was the night before All-Star break. We lucked out. I honestly think Malone has a valid point. Of course I can’t stand the NBA so I hope they go out of business myself but my son would be disappointed. I know they are not going out of business, but I did see viewership is down 38%…don’t know if true or not. If true that is substantial. Another problem for all pro sports are $11 hot dogs, $13 beers etc…I know you are not forced to buy them but you are caged in a building for three hours…makes millions of people not want to attend.

  2. I think that’s the fine line all professional sports leagues must walk, D.

    Why pay exorbitant prices for a ticket when you can easily watch the games within the comforts of your own home?

    But let’s be honest. Only a small portion of these league’s revenue comes from ticket sales. The majority of it comes from these whopper TV contracts.

    Like I said in the post, the NBA isn’t keen on bad publicity. This whole resting thing will be quickly resolved and become a thing of the past.

    Nice of Malone not to call modern players “pussies,” though, don’t ya think? When we all know that’s just what he meant. Most fans would probably have to agree at least to some extent.

  3. I’d love to get Karl the Redneck’s take on the Lakers effort vs the Clippers last night…Matter of fact, I’d love to have HIM give it to them in person.

    I realize we’re tanking to keep the top 3 protected pick, but down 30 at the half? ….C’mon man. You cash those checks, right?? Then fucking WORK.

    And our starting power forward Julius Randle, (You know…Karl’s old spot?) was particularly lazy last night…Especially on defense. Nothing would make me happier than Karl the Redneck all up in his grill with that barley comprehensible “Kaurwl Muhlouwn” accent giving him the business about effort.

    Fuck it…I’m starting a GoFundMe page for it to happen.

  4. I’m not sure how I feel about resting players but as a die hard Spurs fan I have seen the benefits first hand… I heard a valid point a day or so ago about this but I can’t remember who said it but it basically came down to whether you wanted to see the superstars play every night or would you rather they have a longer career…I understand the old schoolers like Malone saying I played every night but it’s different today, especially for international players… for example, Tony Parker has been playing professional basketball since he was 14 and that doesn’t include just about every summer playing for either a championship or the national team… if he wasn’t allowed to rest every once in a while he would no longer be in the league… Karl at least got to take the summers off and do a little fishing

  5. That’s another issue not only the NBA has to deal with, Bleed, but the NFL as well.

    Jags and Browns are each 1-14 going into the final Sunday of the season. There’s a clear cut number one draft pick out there that’s going to turn the franchise around.

    You can’t tell me those teams are going out there in Week 17 to win.

    Brother, you should be used to this Lakers team giving minimal effort by now.

    And since you’re getting top three, who ya’ draftin’? You going after Ball, ’cause you know that kid is comin’ out.

  6. Don’t blame Pops for starting the “FU fans” trend. Riley initiated it in South Beach with Shaq and DWade and won a title. Eliminate the back to back games and start the season 7-10 days earlier. I posted this in another forum thread a few weeks ago.

    “Suppose I lived near the Memphis area with a family of 4 and decided to purchase primo NBA seats from a 2nd hand outlet a few weeks in advance. The Cavs are coming to town only once this season. My kids love Irving, Love and especially LeBron. We get there and those 3 primadonna hoopsters never even made the trip. Instead we got to watch Kay Felder, Dunleavy, and the freak Chris Anderson. I wudda blown a G-note on D-League grads and Adam Silver doesn’t GAF. LeBron said he was just following his coaches orders. LOL I think we’d leave arena new Marc Gasol fans.
    *We can thank our super patriot Grep Popovich for starting this FU trend.”

    *Later amended to Pat Rileyl

  7. I’ve never known tanking until that cocksucker David Stern vetoed us. Last night was just particularly discouraging…And me being me, I suffered through and actually watched the entire game.

    I know we suck, but I enjoy watching the young cats develop. Effort isn’t usually the problem, hell, we almost beat the Cavs the game before. Lack of experience, execution and well, lack of overall defense in general are the usual culprits…As well as continually being over matched as most of our guys are still only kids at 19 to 21 years old right now playing against grown ass men.

    As far as Ball, I don’t watch any college hoops until March. Matter of fact, the the only time I’ve ever seen him play is the two most recent tournament games. The only other game I watched this whole season was USC’s recent loss to Baylor. I’m an NBA guy.

    Lonzo has talent, but his old man’s mouth alone is a deterrent. I don’t know the other prospects at all yet. I usually wait until the draft order is determined, then start watching the YouTube videos of guys we might have a shot at getting.

  8. Tell them to show up for work every day like me and you do for chump (get it?) change. I remember Bird laying on the sideline during games to get his back to loosen up so he could go back in. No disrespect for the young guys and they probably like it that they get to play because the BMOC takes the night off, but come on…when you’re getting paid 10 mil a year to play because of your talent / marketability – play. You can rest for the next 40 years of your life!

  9. Bets…

    I’m sure it even goes farther back than that.

    I’m okay with guys getting a night off or two. After all, how many games have guys like Bron Bron and Steph played over the last three years.

    Short summers, man.

    Just do it at home, not on the road where visiting fans, as you suggest, only get to see you once.

    That shouldn’t be all that difficult to prevent.

  10. Moose…

    The LeBron apologist in me thinks the guy is getting a bad rap. He’s missed five games this year but as I mentioned in the comments above, has made six straight finals. The guy is playing 100-game seasons.

    That leads to short summers.

    Give the guy a rest. Just do it at home.

  11. Walton is secure for at least two more years barring some unforeseen bomb. I think he has a bright future…His pedigree is amazing. Played under Phil Jackson, winning two titles. John Wooden influence through his dad’s tight relationship with coach Wooden. Assistant coach under Kerr who played for Greg Popovich, Phil and Lute Olsen.

    Russell and Ingram show the most potential to be stars of the group we currently have. Randle shows flashes with the double and triple doubles, but he tends to get lazy and lost if he doesn’t get a lot of touches on offense. Great ball handler and distributor for a big. Alot like Odom in that regard, but has no go-to offense other than playing bully ball in the paint and needs to develop a more consistent outside shot. Chatter is that he and Clarkson are the likely trade bait this off season to try to land a star player.

    I’d rather give it another year with this core, add the two 1st round draft picks this off season and see who the big name free agents are next season. Rumors have Paul George very interested in coming home to LA.

    I think trying to trade off Deng or Mozgov’s contracts should be the priority this off season, and if someone wants Randle or Clarkson, try to work either Deng or Moz into the deal. Neither is needed with the full on youth movement going and both were overpaid as Jim & Mitch can attest, lol.

  12. The NBA did this to themselves…although this “old guy on the porch” does feel players today are generally softer. I don’t recall this being an issue until “modern times.” Hell, these guys take nights off even when playing. Some of these players look to be coasting through whole games. The regular season is meaningless, the broadcast partners went nuts with primetime, you have to tank to get talent…and here we are. In my mind there is so much wrong with the NBA it is really hard to know where to start. I don’t think they will put the rest issue to rest but they’ll tweak the scheduling a bit to make it look better. Owners and players will just come up with an injury to nurse. These owners want to win a title and I don’t think they particularly care about these optics like the Commish does. I can’t get a read on whether or not the majority of NBA fans are outraged or they are “soft” these days now also…and likewise just wait for the post-season each season.

  13. Just seems like a long road up, Bleed.

    I agree that going after a superstar is a must. Building around young talent is fine, Golden State did it, but those guys on your roster aren’t Steph and Klay.

    I think 2-3 years is optimistic unless they pull off something major.

  14. Burnsy…

    As you know, I’m an NBA homer. It’s always tough to compare generations past and present but LeBron’s game speaks for itself. The guys is already top five in playoff scoring and rebounding.

    What Golden State is doing is also pretty spectacular.

    Russell Westbrook is a freak, Anthony Davis is quite nice and the Spurs are still the Spurs.

    I’m pretty sure if you called any of these guys “soft,” they’d have a hard fist coming right at ya’.

    If people already complain the season is too long, I’m not sure lengthening it will do much good, even if it’s only a week.

    They can, however, shorten the playoffs. Some teams have like six days rest between games. That’s absurd!

  15. Agreed the two month post-season is absurd. Ironically all you hear when one team takes the other out early is will they get too much rest. I think the fact we’re even talking about rest means there’s issues that aren’t easily addressed above and beyond a tweak in scheduling. Being where I am we already have the tanking issue to deal with on a daily basis with the Sixers and their “competition.” Now we have the resting issue…which I believe is a perfectly natural byproduct of how professional basketball is presently constructed.

  16. Should make for an interesting off-season, Burnsy.

    When Silver and the owners propose something to remedy this, I wonder how much pushback they’ll get from the players.

    They might want to have ESPN/Turner reps in there to remind them whose name is on their paychecks.

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