Malone peeved 'Miller was involved'

Updated: January 30, 2004, 12:20 PM ET
By Miki Turner | Special to ESPN.com

If you bite a big dog when he's down and out it's very likely he'll bite back.

That's exactly what injured Lakers forward Karl Malone did Wednesday night at Staples Center when he took extreme exception to a skit performed by the mascot of his former team, the Utah Jazz.

Karl Malone
Malone

Speaking in front of a small group of reporters in the Lakers' locker room prior to LA's game against Seattle, Malone calmly, but sternly expressed his anger over the incident that took place between the first and second quarters of the Jazz-Lakers game on Saturday.

The mascot (a bear) held a mock telephone conversation with a Malone impersonator over the Delta Center's public-address system that went a little something like this:

"Go tell Larry [Miller, the Jazz owner] I want to come home," the faux Malone said. "I don't care if Stock ain't there. I want to come home. They're mean to me here. They don't give me the ball. They don't like me."

As the crowd cheered, faux Malone added: "But, I guess it could be worse. I could be Ko--."

Malone, who was in Arkansas visiting his brother and nursing a right knee injury, was not amused. Lakers officials said Thursday they don't expect the 40-year-old Malone to be able to play until mid-to-late March. The Lakers return to Utah on March 8.

"I had said that I wasn't going to say nothing about the Jazz, but that was no class from that organization. I was there for 18 years. Not only was I surprised by that, but I was surprised that Larry Miller was involved in it.

"That kind of stuff there is like pathetic. If an athlete would have did that, we'd have been talking about it for the rest of the year on SportsCenter."

Jazz spokesman Kim Turner said Malone's comments were the first negative feedback he has heard about the skit since the game.

"The Utah Jazz have extended an apology to the Los Angeles Lakers organization,'' Turner said, without elaborating.

Miller did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.

Malone said he'd received an apology -- sort of.

"Their apology to us was from the bear," Malone said. "He called my wife and said he shouldn't have done it. After 18 years? It's something I'll never forget. It's bull----. I used to have friends in that organization, but very few, of course."

Word about the incident reached Malone through some of his teammates. He said after hearing it, he knew he had made the right decision to leave Utah. Malone took a tremendous cut in salary to join what he hopes will be a championship team. He has not received an apology from Miller and says he doesn't want one.

"I know the chain of command," he added. "For someone to pull a skit like that they have to get it approved by the front office. And he got approved because the bear told us he got approved to do that. For Larry to be involved in the skit is just bull----. I would never do that. And to talk about another athlete, it's bull----.

"They don't know [Kobe Bryant]. This is a great kid. And for them to put that out there like that or say that about him, that's disrespectful. And I will never, ever forgive them for that ever in my life. ... In the end, I guarantee you, I'll have the last say on this. You can print that and whatever you do, make sure this goes out on the wire. I want them to read this because I left there saying I was going to be nice about things, and I have. But I'm just getting started."

The one thing that did amuse Malone about his former team was news that the Jazz are planning to erect a statute of the future Hall of Famer outside the Delta Center.

"Really? I can't tell them where to spend their money," he said.

Miki Turner is a staff writer for ESPN.com's Page 3. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.