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The Mailman, Hall of Famer

August 14, 2010
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Karl said a couple of weeks ago that he was going to try to keep his speech short and so that he wouldn’t cry, but that he knew he was going to cry when he talked about his mom (who passed away seven years ago today). I knew that I was going to cry when he talked about his mom, so I knew he had no shot at not crying. In fact, Karl was crying before he even got out of his seat. :)

He was so humble, so gracious, so sincere. He kept saying that it’s not about him, but all the people that had a hand in his journey to the Hall of Fame. In the words of Free Darko, Karl’s speech was “like if you took Jordan’s speech and turned it inside out.”

“I hope I [played basketball] the way my peers did it before me.”

As we’ve seen since Karl retired, and maybe even before then, no one playing basketball after Karl is doing it the way he did.

Incidentally, I was surprised Karl wore a tux. Seeing as how he wore a T-shirt to his retirement ceremony and a short-sleeved shirt to the HOF press conference yesterday (which I love him for), I didn’t think a coat was a given, much less a tie. That said, boy did he look good in that tux.

(And can I just say, Kay Malone looks fantastic. She hasn’t aged a day in 15 years.)

Aside time: I was talking to my mom later on, and she said that it’s Magic’s birthday today (in our time zone). She then went on to recount how six members of the Dream Team were Leos, including Karl, who is a July Leo, David on the 5th, Patrick on the 6th, etc. (Yes, we’re on a first-name basis with all the Dream Teamers. Also, just to be clear, she isn’t some weird astrology freak. It’s just that her birthday is on the 4th and she’s a Leo herself, so she happened to notice this back then). And then when she saw Lenny Wilkens at the ceremony with the Dream Team, she was like, “Oh, he used to be the coach of the Cavs.” I don’t even remember back that far. Like I said in my last post, my mom got me to start watching basketball.

Perhaps you noticed during yesterday’s press conference that Karl put on his Hall of Fame sports coat when he was introduced, and then took it off and was holding it during the rest of the event. It turns out that it was too small (“My 12-year-old daughter couldn’t get into it,” Malone said, laughing). In typical Karl fashion, he later gave it to a child in a wheelchair. Frank Layden said it before the ceremony: “He’s a better man than he was [an] athlete.”

It could be said that today is the official end of the Stockton-to-Malone era. Their jerseys are hanging together in the rafters. Their statues are standing together outside the arena. They’re now together in the Hall of Fame. And I’m a big ol’ ball of emotion and nostalgia.

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