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Karl Malone - John Stockton - Utah Jazz
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Malone: Stockton Was ‘Tough As A Pair Of Leather Boots’

Karl Malone #32 and John Stockton #12 of the Utah Jazz talk strategy during a break in NBA game action at the Delta Center circa 1997 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 1997 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Karl Malone boasted about his former Utah Jazz teammate John Stockton on the latest episode of the Knuckleheads podcast. On the episode, the former Utah Jazz Hall of Famer discussed his partnership with John Stockton and his own reputation as a dirty player.

The Knucklehead podcast is a running series hosted by former NBA players Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles often interviewing former NBA players about league history.

During the more than 100 minute podcast, Malone discussed how he and Stockton operated in Utah for nearly two decades together, and how he approached his role as an enforcer in the NBA.

Malone: Stockton ‘Tough As A Pair Of Leather Boots’

While Stockton and Malone spent 18 seasons together, neither player hardly missed a game. Malone is known as one of the most gifted physical specimens in league history, while Stockton’s grit kept him on the floor as he battled through injuries.

On the episode, Malone described Stockton’s durability using a quote from late Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.

“Coach Sloan used to say he was as ‘tough as a pair of leather boots, broken-in leather boots,” Malone recounted. “He was one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around.”

Malone remembered one specific incident that highlighted Stockton’s toughness. During a playoff game with the Sacramento Kings, the Jazz guard was on the wrong end of a cheap shot from All-Star Chris Webber but it didn’t keep him out of the game.

“I love Chris Webber but this one time I wanted to kick his [butt],” Malone said. “So we had been wearing them out at home, and Chris Webber started at half court looking for John — On the flip side, I’m going to say good on you Chris for studying the playbook — And we ran that ‘four-up’ he didn’t even care. He hit Stock the sternum with his elbow. I tell you I [darn] near felt it and heard it.”

After the play, Malone went to Sloan on the sideline and asked him not to run the play for fear of Stockton’s wellbeing.

“Stock looked at me and said, ‘No, I’m good,'” Malone said.

The Jazz lost the game, though Stockton finished with 13 points, six rebounds, and six assists in 33 minutes, despite taking the shot on the game’s first play.

The team would go on to win the opening round series in five games which included a Stockton buzzer-beating game-winner in game four.

Malone Makes Good With Isiah Thomas

Malone was notorious for his own dirty play throughout his career. Perhaps no incident is more infamous than his elbow to the face of Detroit Pistons guard Isiah Thomas that sent the Hall of Famer sprawling and required 40 stitches to close.

Malone insisted the elbow had nothing to do with Thomas’ play, but with that of his Pistons teammates.

“[Bill] Laimbeer and [Rick] Mahorn, they were borderline dirty,” Malone said.

“Isiah Thomas and I have had an unbelievable conversation here the last year,” Malone said. “So you all know how that went down. But it went down because of those other guys that were with him. Every time I played them, [darnit] I just wanted to fight.”

The Jazz went on to win the game, though Malone found himself lighter in the pocketbook as a result.

Malone was suspended for the Jazz following game and fined $10,000 for the incident. Thomas missed three games as he recovered from the injury.

You can listen to the entire podcast in the player below. Listener discretion, the episode has language that may not be appropriate for all listeners.

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