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1998: Karl Malone #32 of the Utah Jazz in action during a game against the Houston Rockets (Getty: Otto Greule Jr )
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Unseen Footage Of Karl Malone Discussing Michael Jordan

1998: Karl Malone #32 of the Utah Jazz in action during a game against the Houston Rockets (Getty: Otto Greule Jr )

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – There was one very notable absence during ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary. The 10 part series covering Michael Jordan’s career did not include an interview with Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone. Despite two episodes prominently featuring the Jazz and Bulls finals, Malone wouldn’t commit to an interview. However, recent unseen footage of Malone released by ESPN reveals how the Jazz legend felt about Jordan.

ESPN’s E:60 tweeted out a video of Malone from a February 2019 interview in which the Hall of Famer was asked about Jordan.

Warning, the video below contains language that some viewers may find offensive.

“When I say the name Michael Jordan,” The producer asked Malone. “What comes to mind?”

“Michael Jordan… Michael Jordan,” Malone responded. “What else do I need to say?”

The bearded Malone appeared in the video smoking a cigar.

“I’ll tell you this,” Malone said. “I’m all man, and I accept the responsibility for not winning one. And we was there. We just happened to be playing the Chicago Bulls–which wasn’t just Michael Jordan by the way.”

The Jazz lost to the Bulls in the Finals in back to back seasons. The two six games series were the closest the franchise ever came to winning a title.

Malone On Jordan

“And I have the utmost respect for Michael, but I never thought I was playing Michael Jordan,” Malone said. “I was playing the Chicago Bulls.”

Malone would make a third trip to the Finals during the last season of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the veteran forward would suffer a knee injury midway through the season and was rarely used in the Finals.

The Lakers would lose to the underdog Detroit Pistons in five games.

“But everybody say, ‘this person was a bad man’ and all that,” Malone said. “Well yes, I give them respect, but I got a setup, I’m a man. And I was a bad son of a b****, too. That’s how I look at that. And that’s who I am. Maybe in my older years I can call it that bounty, but I just call it like I see it.”

Jordan On Malone

Though Malone failed to appear for an interview in the documentary, Jordan spoke at his relationship with Malone in the series.

The two players were teammates on the 1992 USA Olympic Team. Jordan went as far as to make a trip to see Malone and teammate John Stockton during his brief retirement.

“When I was playing baseball, Utah was in town to play the Bulls,” Jordan revealed. “They were practicing at the facility, I go over to say hello to John and Karl.”

The meeting would lay the groundwork for the final shot of Jordan’s career of Bryron Russell.

“This kid Bryon Russell comes up to me and says why did you quit? Why did you quit? You know I could guard your a**,” Jordan remembered. “You had to quit. I said ‘Karl, you need to talk to this dude man.”

Jordan And Malone Matchups

Despite two finals losses, Malone owns the all-time regular-season match up versus Jordan. The two superstars faced off 24 times in their careers. The Jazz won 13 matchups against Jordan, while the Chicago legend won just 11 games.

However, Jordan held a distinct scoring edge when the two players met. Jordan averaged a jaw-dropping 33.2 points per game in the matchups. Meanwhile, Malone contributed 26.4 points per contest.

The two players first met on December 3, 1986. Jordan scored 45 points on 17-33 shooting. Malone gave the Jazz 24 points on 10-18 from the floor. The Jazz beat the Bulls 99-94 in Salt Lake City.

Malone and Jordan last met on Valentine’s Day of 2003. Malone would score 23 points on 7-16 shooting. Meanwhile, Jordan would manage just 11 points on 3-12 from the floor. The Jazz crushed the Washington Wizards 109-77.

Malone Chose Not To Be Interviewed

The director of the series Jason Hehir said Malone chose not to be interviewed.

“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. However, Malone refused.

Stockton was wary at first of appearing in the documentary. The Hall of Fame guard was worried the series would serve only as a “puff piece.”

 

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