#UnbelievableFunction Alert: Karl Malone is working with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter
Greg Miller to Karl Malone: I think a lot of folks out there’d be happy to hear this, so why don’t you go ahead and announce what we’ve been working on.
Karl Malone: What I would like to announce, Greg, on behalf of all of us, that I’m proud, and happy, and honored to be back in the fold, to some degree, with the Jazz organization.
Particular the big guys, and I’m excited, and I think it’s a great time for us to make that announcement, Greg, that I think it’s going to be a lot of fun…The Jazz organization got a great stable of big guys.
Greg Miller: I think it’s been really fun getting this lined up. I’ve enjoyed our visits. It’s been really interesting and exciting for me to hear your approach and how seriously you’ve taken this opportunity.
And for all the listeners out there, I’ll just say that in the first conversation, I said to Karl, “I know what your work ethic’s like, and our bigs are important to us. So don’t kill them on the first workout.”
Karl Malone: I said to Greg, “You know, it’s really not about killing them, because I think we have a unbelievable strength and conditioning coach in Mark McKown.” …
I spent a little bit time already with Derrick [Favors], and I told you straight up, Greg, that if somebody telling you that they need to come in and work on his–help with his shooting or something like that, I told you straight up that I don’t, I think that’s a waste.
But I think with Derrick, it’s a little small nuances that, playing in the post and running the floor and putting pressure on smaller guys and getting out wide, all the things that Jerry Sloan taught me. I said, “If that’s the fact, I’ll be honored to work with him.”
And if I was trying to reinvent the wheel with this kid, I watched him shoot about a hundred jump shots.* And yeah, he might’ve missed some of them, but all of them was right on.
So it’s kinda like anything else. When you got something great to work with, I think it’s neat to be able to get in the fold with this … To have big guys that we have in the Jazz organization, with [Enes] Kantner** and Favors, and those guys, I think it’s gonna be awesome, Greg.
* Is it weird that I get chills thinking about Karl watching Derrick take 100 jumpers?
** Kantner is the new Alex.
Greg Miller: I agree. It’s been a lot of fun so far. I think it’s gonna be a lot more fun ahead of us, but more importantly, I think your involvement with our bigs is gonna help us win more ball games.
Karl Malone: Greg, what I’m excited about, you know, and I want our listeners to realize this, I can sit here and tell you that me coming to Utah as a 21-, 22-year-old kid and growing into be a man, you know, that my experience with the Jazz organization is awesome.
And to be able to have an opportunity to still be involved with the organization, it don’t really matter how we got to this point, Greg. What’s important to me now is we’re here, and I think we both is gonna be able to take something away from it. I get to be back involved with the organization that gave me so much as a young kid, allowed me to grow. …
I wouldn’t mind sharing with these young kids my experiences that are positive as well as negative. So it’s not about me sitting here telling them I’m the best at this. I also want to tell them, my shortfalls as a man that they don’t need to do. I don’t mind talking to them about that as well…
You can’t have positive without negative, and trust me, I have my share. So I don’t mind talking to them about that, just, not just about basketball.
How did all this come together?
Greg Miller: I think it’s a cool story, and I–Karl, you stop me if I’m crossing lines I shouldn’t. But I think it all kinda started, at least from my perspective, obviously, Karl was with us for 18, 19 years, and set the bar for how a power forward should play the game. And I’ve always respected Karl for that, and many other reasons.
And then we had our little, whatever you want to call it, where we had some differences, and I think it’s because we both take a lot of pride in what we do. And I felt like we were being attacked a little bit as an organization, and I don’t think Karl meant any harm by it.
After talking to Karl, I see his perspective…I probably should’ve taken a few more deep breaths before I sent that tweet out about, “Hey Karl, blah blah blah.” And if I had it to do over, I clearly wouldn’t have done it the same way. I would’ve called Karl and said, “Come on Karl, let’s be gentlemen about this” and it would’ve ended a lot better had I been more mature about it.*
But then Karl was at a game not long after that, and he and I had the opportunity to visit in Ty’s office. It was just Karl and I, and we had what I thought was a, it was one of the best meetings I’ve ever had, and it didn’t start well, but once we both kind of calmed down a little bit, and started to listen to each other, I think it got very productive very quickly, and it actually, as crazy as this sounds, it ended with a hug. A warm hug.
And it ended really well, and then that kinda cleared the deck for us to think about, you know, what if this, what if that. …
When Karl made it clear that he was available, it was a relative no-brainer in that here’s one of the great power forwards to ever play the game who’s offering his services to help make our bigs better, and so one thing led to another, and I know that Karl and Ty had several conversations about it…
We talked it over one night after a game, with, it was Tyrone, and Dennis Lindsey, and Randy Rigby, and Kevin O’Connor, and myself. And we said, “Hey, Karl’s offered this up, and we could certainly use some help in these positions. What do you guys wanna do?”
And to a man, we said, “This is a good thing for our organization.”
* Big props to Greg Miller for saying/admitting this. Seriously.
Karl Malone: [Greg and I] can actually throw daggers for the rest of our life at each other, and at the end of ten year or five years, what’s the point? So my whole attitude is, I have the same amount of pride with the Jazz organization that Greg have, and it’s different things, but it’s the same.
It’s so much wasted energy doing that. So, no-no. We’re not sitting here saying, “God, this guy was this. This–” — you know what? It’s not about that. It’s about, we both have gotten so much out of the organization, and positive. Not that we take more than the other person take.
So my whole thing is this right here. Look, I’m ready to be 50. I think I be growing up even when I’m 70 or 80 years old. You know? I hope to think that I can still be learning something. …
The Jazz organization reached out to me and I said I was available, and we go from here. But it’s not about me trying to do anything other than help the bigs. Guys, look. I’m not a genius. You know, what I’m seeing already out of the bigs, they have more talent, just raw talent, than, already, than Karl Malone had. But it’s up to them…
Everything I’ll say and do might not be right. You gon have people that talk about this and this, and I think somebody already said, “What happen when Karl decide he wanna go fishing?” This is all the things that we gonna work through together, for one goal. And that’s try to bring a championship to Utah–we was close, but no cigars–but, and try to get our bigs to reach their full potential. And that’s what we all striving for.
Karl Malone is not trying to be a head coach of the Jazz. That’s Tyrone Corbin position. …
I want to go on record and say this. At any given time that it’s not working for the Jazz organization and the powers that be, I will be a big boy about this…If Greg and anybody come to me and say, “Look here Karl, this started off and it was nice and it was warm and fuzzy and all of that, but it’s just not working,” and I become a distraction of any sort, I will respectfully step away from it, because that’s not my intention at all.
Even if everyone doesn’t agree all the time, does it make you stronger to bring in opinionated people, rather than bringing in some weak coach who only says, “Yes, sir” and “Whatever you say, sir”?
Greg Miller: [My dad once told me,] “When you’re in a competitive situation…emotions run high. Everybody wants to win…As long as those emotions are channeled in the right direction, it can lift a team or a group to great heights.” …
Karl wants to win. We want to win. Karl’s one of the greatest to ever play the game. We have young bigs who show promise. It has the makings of becoming something that’s a good fit for everyone. We all just need to understand our role. We all need to stay focused on the prize. And if we can do that, I think this can really be a good thing for all of us.
Karl Malone: You going down the road, and we’re all going to the s–our destination, right? We each need to stay in our own lane. We don’t need to be swervin’ and gettin’ in someone else’s way…
Look, I played for 18, 18 years.* It’s their time now. But I will always be respectful to the coaches. Look, I played with Tyrone, but I call him “coach.”** Still. Now, I played with him; he’s “coach” to me.
My whole attitude is, if we keep the eye on the prize, everybody realize, we’re all have something to bring to the table. Now, are we gonna disagree with each other? Absolutely. Here is my goal. My goal is, my opinion is my opinion. I will try my best, to my might, to keep it in-house.
* Underrated best part of the interview. I deny Karl ever played anywhere after the Jazz; he retired with Stockton. Karl apparently feels the same way. :)
** Karl was probably asked to sign something promising that he would always and only refer to Tyrone Corbin as “coach”…
Karl asks who else is in the studio.
Spencer Checketts jumps in, introduces himself, and asks whether Karl will be sitting on the bench in a suit and whether his draft day suit will be resurrected.
Karl responds: “Well first of all, don’t be a comedian now, because I will come up there and beat you.”
Who wouldn’t pay money to see this?
Assistant Coach Karl Malone?
Karl Malone: We haven’t talked about me on the bench…I have worked with Derrick a little bit. Kantner* is still recovering. I think within the next week or so I’ll be working with Derrick again, and we’re gonna go from there…
We have not discussed anything–Greg, you can tell them–we haven’t discussed nothing other than I be working with the bigs. So I think on the bench is farfetched. And I think that’s also unfair to Tyrone, wouldn’t you say that, Greg?
** At this point, Enes should just change his last name to Kantner.
Greg Miller: I think the way we should approach this, all of us, should kinda manage expectations, is that Karl’s made his services available. We consider ourselves fortunate to have him as a resource to help us get better…
This has all happened over a period of months, but still relatively quickly. And I don’t think either one of us want to rush into it. [Karl: Right.] We wanna just kinda just see how it goes, and if we have some success, and we think that there’s a higher and better use of our resources, and we can work together in a different way, who knows where it could go?
I think it would be foolish to say it’s gonna go here, or go there. Right now our agreement is that he’s gonna come in on a periodic basis and work with our guys and help them get better.
When Karl Met Derrick
Randy Rigby: Having witnessed the first interaction with Derrick and Karl…I was gonna just stop by and say hello to Karl as well, and then leave. It was so fascinating to me to, I spent the whole time there.
And Karl did a masterful job, in really doing exactly, as what we’ve wanted him to do, and that is, is to work with these players one on one, and talk about what has, what could help them really improve their game, and also understand the game of basketball, and having a better respect for the game of basketball, and to recognize their potential, and to give them some real tips, as well as to talk about what it means to put on a Jazz uniform, and the privilege of working for this organization.
Karl was masterful, and I thoroughly appreciated every bit of what he was doing to help our organization.
Greg Miller: Let me just add to that, that, as I’ve said earlier, I’ve always had great respect for Karl as a player, and for his work ethic, and his level of preparation is second to none.
But when he and I had that visit the day before his workout with [Derrick], I was, my expectations were high. But he exceeded them in his level of preparation and the amount of, you know, just the questions he was gonna ask Derrick. The kind of run of show when he met Derrick, and so on.
It was just exciting for me to know that Karl was that committed to doing it, and I was absolutely certain that it was the right thing to do when that happened.
How much time and commitment do you have to this situation?
Karl Malone: I was very, very candid, number one, with Ty…Tyrone Corbin is to me the coach of the Jazz. And Greg and I had a great conversation about that, and Greg don’t have to worry about that. I understand.
So let me say this. Everything I do, I talk to Ty, and I confer with Ty. And I did the same thing right down to, I call Ty before I call Greg, you know, and it just a respect thing…
Of course I have commitments here…but I will work my schedule around. And I’m sure as we get closer to the season, I can tweak things. But I do know this, and Greg know this. If KJ play as a freshman, they play on Saturdays. So I can’t actually tell you that Imma miss a lot of LSU football games on Saturdays. But we will work that.
So my commitment is, I got a pretty good schedule in the summers, but I think it’s gonna be some traveling back and forth on Derrick part, and when I’m in Utah, ’cause I come to Utah occasionally, sometimes twice a month…so we gonna work the particulars out.
Already, as a matter of fact, we’re waiting now, Imma talk to Ty a little bit later, on getting that schedule. So I’m not sitting here telling you guys Imma be at the summer league in Orlando and all of that. But my time could be three to four days this time, or it could be sometimes a little lower. But I will dedicate time to work, but I think we both realize that we gonna be working around each other’s schedule.
Can you share some of what you told Derrick about what it means to wear a Jazz uniform?
Karl Malone: My thing is, to say to these guys, “Guys, it’s not gonna pain you to give.” … See, people think giving is about money. Giving is about time.
You will not realize the magnitude of visiting the kid in the community. Visiting some person that watch the Jazz that love you. Taking the time out of your schedule to give back.
You know, this is a great organization, but it’s a great community. It’s, Utah is such a awesome place. It’s like no other place. Guys, look. Everyday of my life, I miss it. And you can talk to anybody that’s a friend of mine, when I come in to Utah and I look at those mountains when I’m standing in the parking lot. I say to myself, “God, I miss this.”
So what I told Derrick was, “Look. Look at Karl and say, ‘Okay, well, I wouldn’t’ve done this if I was Karl, personal.’ Take that. I don’t mind you learning from my misfortunes or my bad judgment as a man growing up. But look at the positives. Say, ‘How can I do this?’ Say, ‘It only take time, visiting people, giving back. There’s 24 hours in the day. If you can’t, you can give 30 minutes of your time to change someone life.'”
So to me, I felt it when I was doing it, but I also feel it even more now. I look back now, and I pull up old things that I did. I walk into the dealership and I see these pictures of this kid that I met one time that got burnt almost to, you know, you couldn’t recognize, and I remember when I took this picture with this kid, and the smile that he had on his face. Or there’s some kid laying in the ICU, some parent that’s a Jazz fan. That’s what it’s about.
Closing note from Greg Miller
Greg Miller: It was just really cool for me–now, I’m listening to [Karl talk] through the fan’s ears–and Karl was in my office and he was telling me that when, that one of the things that he wanted to impart on Enes and Derrick is how he approached the game.
And when he got the rebound, he didn’t just want to beat his opponent down the floor. He wanted to give [John] Stockton the outlet pass, and beat Stockton down the floor. So he was on both ends of the court.
And just to have that glimpse into his competitive mind, that, it really illustrated why he was the great person that he was…and it just speaks to his work ethic. And I’m sure, as time goes on, he’s gonna share dozens if not hundreds of perspectives like that with our bigs that will help them get better. (1280)