Keith Van Horn Talked About Facing Malone, Utes Win Over Kentucky With John Calipari
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah forward and longtime NBA veteran Keith Van Horn reflected on his time with the New Jersey Nets, facing Karl Malone and the Runnin’ Utes win over Kentucky with John Calipari.
Van Horn along with Nets teammates Kerry Kittles, Sam Cassell and Sherman Douglas joined Kentucky head coach and the head coach of the Nets in 1998 John Calipari on Facebook Live “Coffee With Cal.”
The 1998 New Jersey Nets team was featured on “The Last Dance” documentary on ESPN that is diving into the last season of the Chicago Bulls dynasty with Michael Jordan. The Nets faced the Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs and were heavy underdogs.
‘Couldn’t Guard Karl Malone’
Calipari mentioned that the Nets brought in Van Horn in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers because he wanted to use the former Ute as a stretch four.
“We drafted Tim Thomas for them so we can get him (Van Horn),” Calipari said. “I saw Keith as a stretch four before their were stretch fours. He could be in pick and rolls and stretch the floor out.”
Calipari recalled a conversation with Van Horn during the season when the Nets had to play Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz.
“Keith, do you remember going to Utah and you said ‘Cal, I don’t think I can guard Malone.’ I said ‘well, I am not sure you can either. He’ll probably get 30 points but you will have to get 32 points,'” Calipari said.
During the regular season, the Nets lost both games to the Jazz. In the first meeting in Salt Lake City, Malone had 19 points and 14 rebounds. Van Horn did not play in that game.
When the two teams met in New Jersey later that season, the Nets lost 122-115. Malone recorded 32 points and 12 rebounds while Van Horn finished with 23.
Facing Michael Jordan, Bulls
In the final season of the Chicago Bulls dynasty in 1998, the Bulls started their playoff run for a third straight NBA title with the New Jersey Nets who had a 17-win improvement from the previous season under Calipari.
As heavy underdogs against the Bulls, the Nets made it a competitive series despite being swept. New Jersey took Chicago to overtime in game one before losing by three points. In game 2 in Chicago, the Nets lost by five points before losing by 15 points in game three in New Jersey.
Van Horn was asked what made that Bulls team so special.
“I think their was a buy in from all of the players on the team to fulfill their roles,” Van Horn said about the Bulls. “I don’t think you see that quite as much today. You saw guys that were just willing to do their role to the best of their ability. They had some of the best role players that have ever played the game.”
Utah Beating Kentucky
Calipari is currently the head coach of the Kentucky men’s basketball program. They were ranked No. 6 in the country when they faced the Utes in Las Vegas on December 18, 2019. Utah stunned the Wildcats with a 69-66 win.
“They (Kentucky) did damage to my heart for a long time,” Van Horn said. “I had to wear my Utah shirt today because we finally got a win against them this year. I appreciate that, Cal.”
Calipari laughed and shrugged off the loss before giving credit to Larry Krystkowiak and the Utes.
“How about that game, oh my gosh,” Calipari replied. “They beat our brains in out in Vegas. Larry (Krystkowiak has done a good job with that team.”
Timmy Allen led all scorers in that game with 25 points.