Karl Malone And Bryon Russell Turned Down Interviews For “The Last Dance”

May 18, 2020, 11:06 AM | Updated: 4:47 pm

Michael Jordan and forward Karl Malone Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport...

Michael Jordan and forward Karl Malone Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Jazz forwards Karl Malone and Bryon Russell turned down interviews for “The Last Dance” documentary. Jason Hehir, the director of the 10 part series confirmed on The Dan Patrick Show that Malone said no to the request. Russell never responded to the series producers.

“He declined through another party,” Hehir said of Malone. “We asked him multiple times.”

The director said they even went through Malone’s Hall of Fame pick and roll counterpart John Stockton to get the star to sit down for an interview.

Karl Malone, Bryon Russell and “The Last Dance”

“Believe me, we exhausted just about every avenue,” Hehir said. “We started in January of 2018 on that one because we knew that he would be a tough sell.”

Stockton was initially hesitant to appear in a Michael Jordan “puff piece.” However, the All-Star guard finally agreed to sit down for an interview. As it turned out, Stockton would be the last player to agree to an interview.

“On Tuesday, March 10 we interviewed him in Spokane,” Hehir said, “It was so deep into this COVID crisis that we decided that I shouldn’t fly to Spokane because we’re afraid that flight would get grounded indefinitely. So we had someone from out there, a stringer from Seattle drive in and do that interview.”

At one point in the process, Hehir pitched Malone and Stockton doing the interview together.

“We tried and tried with Karl, we tried to get them to sit down together,” Hehir said. “We thought that might be a better option and he might feel comfortable with that but there was just no convincing him.”

Russell’s Fate

Malone wasn’t the only former Jazzman to decline an interview request. Russell also turned down the series.

“That was just a no response, we never got anything back from him,” Hehir said.

Despite Malone turning down an interview request, Jordan revealed at a bond between himself and the two Jazz superstars. The conversation would lead to the fateful meeting between the Bulls legend and the play that would define Russell’s career.

“When I was playing baseball, Utah was in town to play the Bulls,” Jordan revealed. “They’re practicing at the facility, I go over to say hello to John and Karl. This kid Bryon Russell comes up to me and says why did you quit? Why did you quit? You know I could guard your [expletive]. You had to quit. I said ‘Karl, you need to talk to this dude man.’

Malone dismissed the interaction without recognizing what it would foreshadow.

“Nah,” Malone said of Russell. “He’s just a young rookie.”

However, Jordan wasn’t as quick to dismiss the Jazz forward.

“From that point on he had been on my list,” Jordan recalled.

During the documentary, Stockton shared how Russell came to find himself matched up with Jordan in back to back Finals meetings.

“Bryon Russell made our team in the first place through incredible effort defensively,” Stockton said. “So he earned the right to take on some of the tougher assignments. And it doesn’t get any tougher than Michael.”

Jordan first burned Russell with a buzzer-beating shot to end game one of the 1997 Finals in Chicago. That would foreshadow the final shot of Jordan’s career when he brushed Russell aside for a pull up 18-foot jump shot in 1998’s game six to secure the Bulls their final championship.

“I knew how he played,” Jordan said of Russell’s defense. “He played on the front of his toes–give him a head and shoulder fake and he couldn’t stop.”

Hehir said he understood why Russell would deny an interview request for the series.

“Out of respect for Bryon, I think he knew what questions we were going to ask,” Hehir said. “So, maybe he didn’t want to go there, but there’s really nobody else of note that declined.”

However, Stockton didn’t blame Russell for the Jazz Finals losses.

“Bryon is a very playful guy and he said things all the time,” Stockton remembered. “I have no doubt Michael had a number of edges he could have shaped for whatever reason.”


  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz

Dalton Knecht #3 of the Tennessee Volunteers...

Ben Anderson

Utah Jazz Draft Prospect: Tennessee F Dalton Knecht

Tennessee forward Dalton Knecht is projected to be selected in the lottery of the 2024 NBA Draft where the Utah Jazz own a top-ten pick.

2 days ago

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson celebrates an in-season tournament win highlights...

Chandler Holt

Jazz Notes Player Highlights: Utah’s Other Veterans In 2023-24 Season

Although Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton stole the show for Utah, some other Jazz veterans played key roles in the 2023-24 season.

2 days ago

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers...

Ben Anderson

Donovan Mitchell Denies Frustration With Cavaliers Teammates

It's been a rough 24 hours for Donovan Mitchell and his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates after being eliminated from the playoffs.

3 days ago

Bronny James Utah Jazz 2024 NBA Draft...

Chandler Holt

Utah Jazz Reportedly Have Interest In Working Out, Drafting Bronny James

According to Yahoo Sports, the Utah Jazz have expressed interest in working out Bronny James and selecting him in the 2024 NBA Draft.

3 days ago

Ron Holland #0 of G League Ignite...

Ben Anderson

Utah Jazz Mailbag: Which Wing Fits Jazz Best In Draft?

Welcome to the Utah Jazz mailbag where every week our NBA insiders answer your questions on social media about your favorite team.

5 days ago

Dalton Knecht #3 of the Tennessee Volunteers...

Ben Anderson

Utah Jazz 2024 NBA Mock Draft Round-Up: Post Lottery

The NBA Draft is just over six weeks away and with the lottery in the rearview mirror, it's officially mock draft season for the Utah Jazz.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Give-A-Thon

The KSL Sports Zone, KSL 5 TV, FM100.3, 103.5 The Arrow, and KSL NewsRadio have teamed up to raise money for the kids being served by Primary Children’s Care!


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Karl Malone And Bryon Russell Turned Down Interviews For “The Last Dance”