'Outstanding,' but ringless, career nears its end
SALT LAKE CITY -- There will be no NBA career scoring record for Karl Malone. No championship ring, either.
The Mailman is retiring, having come up short in his quest for both during his 19-year career.
Malone, 41, will announce his retirement Sunday, the Jazz said Friday. He will hold a news conference at the Delta Center -- the arena where his 1997 and 1999 league MVP awards are celebrated with signs below the upper deck.
Soon, a giant No. 32 Malone jersey will assuredly hang above the court.
"Even though he never won a championship, he had an outstanding career," said Jerry Sloan, Malone's coach for 15 of his seasons in Utah. "He played a lot of times when he shouldn't have. He did whatever he could to try to win, and I think that kind of thing is overlooked a lot these days in the game of basketball."
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Malone's agent, Dwight Manley, said Malone was "very serious" about returning to action with the San Antonio Spurs before he decided to retire.
"I can tell you he's given a tremendous amount of thought to this decision, but the specific details are best left to him to make on Sunday," Manley said.
Malone retires with 36,928 points, just 1,459 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record 38,387.
He spent all but one of his 19 seasons with the Jazz, signing with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent before last season. He made the move so he could make one more run at the ring that eluded him in trips to the NBA finals in 1997 and '98.
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Malone made it to the finals again with the Lakers, but came up empty. Detroit beat Los Angeles in five games.
Malone teamed with guard John Stockton for 18 seasons with Utah to form one of the NBA's greatest duos, leading the Jazz to the finals twice but losing to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls each time.
"He had a great career here and did a terrific job for the Jazz," Sloan said.
Stockton, the NBA's all-time leader in assists and steals, retired in 2003 after 19 seasons, all with the Jazz.
Malone gave it one more year, joining the Lakers at a greatly reduced salary before last season in an attempt to win a title by playing with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. He missed 39 games during the regular season after injuring his right knee, and was hurt again during the playoffs. He was limited in Games 3 and 4 against the Pistons and missed Game 5.
"We've had one year with him and everyone in the organization, from the front office staff, fellow players, coaches, everyone really enjoyed having Karl around for that year," Lakers spokesman John Black said. "He was a real addition to our team last year in helping us get to the NBA playoffs."
Malone opted out of his $1.65 million contract after last season, making him a free agent. He and his family live in Newport Beach, Calif. They also have a home in Salt Lake City.
Manley said in October that his client wasn't ready to play but that if he returned, it would only be with the Lakers.
That changed late last year after Malone was accused by Bryant of making a pass at Bryant's wife. Malone, through Manley, denied the accusation and apologized to Bryant and his wife for any remarks she might have considered inappropriate.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press