Malone prepares for 'tough decision'

Updated: September 13, 2009, 2:58 AM ET
By Ric Bucher | ESPN The Magazine

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Having a stepfather on life support prevented Karl Malone from attending Friday's induction of his Utah Jazz teammate John Stockton and coach Jerry Sloan to the Basketball Hall of Fame, but Malone surprised them by flying in for Saturday night's HOF dinner.

[+] EnlargeKarl Malone
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty ImagesKarl Malone, who formed arguably the game's greatest pick-and-roll tandem with John Stockton for 18 seasons, is eligible to enter the Hall next year.

"My stepfather Ray is on life support," Malone said at the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino after flying in from his home in Louisiana. "My family and I decided to get away from that for a few hours and come here and then go right back."

Malone's absence on Friday was attributed to "an illness in the family" by Stockton in his induction speech without any further details. Malone, who formed arguably the game's greatest pick-and-roll tandem with Stockton over 18 seasons, is eligible to enter the Hall next year.

There was never a doubt that he would attend some part of the weekend's festivities, Malone indicated. The only question was when, based on his stepfather's condition.

"Stock left me messages all day today and wanted to know how things were going," Malone said. "I didn't text him back because I would've told him I was coming. We're only going to be here for three or four hours. It was just a respect thing. I came to get a hug from John and Jerry Sloan."

Malone indicated that the family might have to decide on Monday whether or not to take his stepfather off life support.

"We have a real tough decision to make," he said.

Ric Bucher is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN Insider.

Ric Bucher

NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer