The Mailman will return to the Jazz next season in a part-time role to help coach Utah's big men. At 49, he hasn't lost a bit of his competitive fire.
DAN PATRICK:How much hunting and fishing do you do?
KARL MALONE: I don't consider myself hunting and fishing. I consider myself catching and ... I can't say the other word. But contrary to what people think, I don't do it all the time. I just do a lot of it when I do it.
DP:If you could bring someone hunting, who would it be?
KM: My former coach Jerry Sloan. If you were going to interview us, you'd have to have a 10-second delay.
DP:Jason Kidd just retired. Whose career would you rather have had—Kidd's or Steve Nash's?
KM: John Stockton's.
DP:He wasn't an option.
KM: Are you kidding? I've gotta steer this interview like I want to.
DP:I'm the Michael Jordan of this interview.
KM: Are you?
DP:All right, I'll be Stockton and set you up. Kidd or Nash?
KM: I would say Kidd. [He] won a ring. Second alltime to Stockton in steals. Second alltime in assists. You didn't think I knew that. I am a student of the game, young man.
DP:Did Jordan foul you on the last play right before he hit the jumper to win the 1998 NBA Finals over your Jazz?
KM: Well, look, you're not sounding like John Stockton now, because we don't make excuses.
DP:I wanted you to clarify.
KM: The Bulls won the championship. O.K.? So that's how I want to leave it.
DP:Because we know he pushed off Bryon Russell.
KM: It was cat-quick reflexes—he just stole it [laughs].
DP:Who would you rather have as a teammate: Jordan or LeBron?
KM: Hold on: Do you have a man-crush on Michael Jordan?
KM: O.K., go ahead.
DP:LeBron or Jordan?
KM: LeBron James, because he plays like me. We don't start playing until we get hit.
DP:How do you feel when people say Tim Duncan is the best power forward of all time?
KM: Here's what I tell people with no basketball expertise: Tim Duncan is not a power forward.
DP:That's what he's listed at.
KM: I don't give a rat's ass what he's listed at. Tim Duncan is a center. They listed him as a power forward because he was there with David Robinson.
DP:What is your alltime starting five?
KM: I'm not going to be in it. I gotta have Wilt Chamberlain as my center. I gotta have John Stockton at point guard. I'm going to put LeBron James at power forward. Oscar Robertson is my two-guard. I have to put Scottie Pippen at the three.... He led the [Bulls] in every category when he was there without Michael Jordan.
DP:Do you have a man-crush on Scottie Pippen?
KM: I just like Scottie. I've got a man-crush on LeBron James.
Note: Malone called me back the next day to say that he would put Jordan on his alltime team.
"If LeBron was playing in the late '80s or early '90s, he'd be just an average player.... If I was 28, guarding LeBron—seriously, dude, are you kidding me? If he scored on me, I would be like O.K. Sooner or later, somebody's gotta win, somebody's gotta lose. Most of the time I don't lose."
—DENNIS RODMAN, Hall of Fame forward, on Heat star LeBron James
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told me that rumors he was about to get fired a few weeks ago were overblown. "You've seen the feeding frenzy," he said. "It was made bigger than it should have been. [Team president] Stan Kasten, every time I see him, still asks me if I work there. It's good to have comedy in your life." ... Lakers guard Steve Nash wasn't thrilled when fellow vets Grant Hill and Jason Kidd announced they were retiring. "That was a low blow by those two guys," Nash joked. "Especially in very quick succession. It was like, Let's jump ship, together, all of us.... I'm hanging in there." ... I asked Timberwolves forward Kevin Love if he would ever want a say in a coach's hiring. "Absolutely," Love said. "I'd like to be involved if we were on the verge of turning the corner like the Clippers." ... I asked Vince Vaughn if he's run into PEDs in Hollywood for actors preparing for action roles. "I haven't been faced with that issue," Vaughn told me. "We know it's not just athletes who are trying to maximize their workouts and how they look, but I haven't been on those sets."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SI (PATRICK)
ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
BRAD MANGIN FOR SI (MATTINGLY)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SI (NASH)
GARRETT W. ELLWOOD/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (LOVE)
PAUL DRINKWATER/NBC/NBC PHOTO BANK/GETTY IMAGES (VAUGHN)