I’ve lived in Utah all my life. I still remember feeling a palpable sense of excitement and pride, which could be felt throughout this great state, when the Utah Jazz played the great Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals, in the late 90′s.
Utah is a funny place. We’re best known for being a bunch of right-wing Mormons who can marry a bunch of women. The truth, however, is we can’t marry a bunch of women (a huge letdown for those of us who have a wife who could use a little more help around the house). No one seems to realize or care that polygamy is against the law, or that the LDS Church banished the practice a long time ago.
So when the Utah Jazz made it to back-to-back NBA Finals, it was a nice to see the rest of the country focus on something other than whether I could bang another woman without my wife getting mad at me because…well…the other woman I was banging was also my wife. People cared about the state of Utah for reasons other than our strange-seeming religious practices. It was awesome!
Enter Jazz owner Greg Miller, son of the late, great Larry H. Miller. Miller wrote a scathing post on his poorly designed blog, bashing Karl Malone as “too unreliable and too unstable” to be an assistant coach for the Utah Jazz…and even called the Mailman a straight-up liar when Malone claimed he had to scalp tickets in order to get into a Jazz game after Sloan resigned.
“Hey Karl – you’re lying,” Miller respectfully posted on Twitter. “You have my number. Next time you need a seat to a Jazz game, call me. You can have mine.”
It seems Miller just couldn’t help himself. It was as if he was getting some sort of satisfaction out of trampling on the integrity of the greatest player in the history of his father’s great franchise. Miller seems intent on destroying any positive memory Jazz fans have of the Malone Era. Why attack Malone so publicly and so viciously? What is Miller trying to prove?
This all started on a local radio show when Malone claimed the Jazz organization didn’t have Jerry Sloan’s back during his feud with Deron Williams last year. In Malone’s opinion, Sloan had no choice but to resign because he felt the organization was taking Williams’ side. The Jazz organization responded to Malone’s statements by having Vice President of Basketball Operations, Kevin O’Connor, go on the same radio show and completely repudiate Malone’s version of the story. They even had Sloan himself put out a statement saying it was his decision to leave and it had nothing to do with any sort of disagreement with Jazz management. Fine. I have no problem with that—even though I think the truth probably lands somewhere in the middle.
I do have a problem with Miller’s disrespectful treatment of Malone. It’s obvious Malone was just sticking up for his coach. It’s obvious he didn’t like the way the Jazz handled the entire Sloan situation. He is probably wrong about a lot of things he is saying took place—he wasn’t in the room. O’Connor’s repudiation and Sloan’s statement should have been enough to put the issue to bed.
This isn’t just one of Jerry Sloan’s close friends we’re talking about here. This is Karl Fucking Malone. Jerry Sloan wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame if it weren’t for Malone. The Mailman built the Utah Jazz. They were a joke of a franchise before he donned their uniform. You don’t treat the greatest thing to ever happen to your franchise with this much disrespect. Just take a look at some of these quotes from Miller’s blogpost…
“The fact is Karl is still as high-maintenance as he ever was, but now he has nothing to offer to offset the grief and aggravation that comes with him.”
Miller is basically saying Malone is a worthless piece of shit now that he can no longer play the game of basketball for a living. There is something very racist about that sentence. If not racist, definitely ignorant. Does Miller not understand what Malone meant and still means to the Utah Jazz? Sure, it was Larry H. Miller who bought the team, saved it from being moved from Salt Lake City on numerous occasions, and handed it over to his arrogant son after Malone turned it into a great franchise. But does the younger Miller really not understand Malone’s significance?
“When I was the general manager of the Honda dealership Karl and John Stockton co-owned in Sandy, Utah, I was responsible to coordinate the grand opening. John and Karl agreed to sign autographs for one hour beginning at 3:00 as part of the ceremony. People started lining up first thing in the morning and by 3:00 there were hundreds of people lined up throughout the dealership. John arrived three minutes early and had a seat at the autograph table. At 3:15 Karl still wasn’t there. Concerned about keeping John longer than agreed, I made the decision to have John start signing autographs. Karl showed up at 3:30. Some people stayed around and formed a second line to get Karl’s autograph, but most left disappointed and angry.”
Seriously? He’s bashing an NBA superstar—who was also, in this case, the owner of the dealership, which would make Malone his boss considering Miller was just managing the place—for being a half hour late to an event at a car dealership? Really?
“A couple of years later there was a lockout in the NBA. By then, the Honda dealership was established, employing about 85 people. Karl co-hosted a radio show at that time and made some comments on the air about wanting to play for a team “in a town where it rains” and when the lockout was over he’d “demand to be traded”. His comments were well documented. The next day car sales dropped by half. Karl continued to make similar comments on his show. After a few days I drove to the studio that broadcast his show and waited until his show was over to speak with him. I told him I respected his right to say whatever he wanted, but that his comments were keeping customers away. I suggested he consider the impact his comments were having on his partner(s) and on the 85 people whose livelihoods depended on customers coming to his dealership. I still remember the surprised look on his face when I pointed those things out to him. Thankfully, that was the end of his trade demands.”
So after Miller talked to him, Malone realized the detrimental effect his comments were having and never demanded a trade again. Malone comes across as a pretty good dude, if you ask me. No NBA superstar has ever wanted to play in Salt Lake City. Malone could have played anywhere, but decided to play in one of the smallest markets, for a team without the resources to compete for a title year in, year out for 18 seasons. Now Miller is complaining about a bad week of car sales that happened over a decade ago? Really? Who the fuck is this guy?
“Some years later Karl scheduled and cancelled or blew off a number of lunch appointments with me. On three separate occasions Karl had one of his assistants schedule a lunch appointment with me. The first time Karl never showed up. When I called his assistant I was told that Karl had something come up and he wouldn’t be able to join me. We rescheduled. I got a call on the way to the second appointment a few weeks later to tell me Karl couldn’t make it. That happened again the third time a month or so later.”
Karl Malone is a bad person for missing three lunch appointments with Larry H. Miller’s son? I want to meet the person who thinks Miller has a legitimate point here and doesn’t just sound like a whiny rich kid who is used to always getting his way.
“A couple of years ago Karl called me to see if our family would be willing to sell him the real estate under his Toyota dealership in Draper, Utah. I told him I’d be happy to discuss it with him. I drove to the dealership and we met in his conference room. Karl’s disposition was very cold at first, but as the conversation progressed, he gradually warmed up. We agreed in concept to the deal, and by the end of the meeting Karl said he thought we should spend more time together. I agreed and suggested we have lunch a couple days later, to which he agreed. Two days later, as I was about to leave for the lunch appointment, he had someone call to tell me he wouldn’t be able to make it.”
Enough with the whole “Karl Malone doesn’t want to have lunch with me” shit. Get over yourself, Greg. The guy stole two MVP’s from Michael Jordan while Jordan was still in his prime. Who the fuck are you?
“These are just a few experiences I’ve had with Karl that clearly demonstrate that he can’t be counted on. I am not willing to invite the elements of unreliability and instability into the Jazz organization. It would obviously do more harm than good.”
If those stories were the best Miller could do to paint Malone as some needy superstar who is always a huge pain in the ass whenever he doesn’t get his way, maybe Miller doesn’t have what it takes to run an NBA team. Those stories sound like a good week in the life of Jerry Buss, the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. Miller should talk to Jerry Reinsdorf about all the shit Jordan put the Chicago Bulls through. You put up with these minor inconveniences because players like Malone are the reason people attend NBA basketball games. No one is going to the Energy Solutions Arena to listen to you bitch about having to eat lunch by yourself, Greg.
“Karl, I’m not sure where or how our relationship became so sour. I wish it was otherwise. I’m sorry if I’ve offended you in any way. I’d love to do whatever I can to mend the fence and make you feel welcome at Jazz games. I would love to have you as an ambassador for the Utah Jazz. You have a standing invitation to do both.”
Really, Greg? You’re really not sure where or how your relationship with Malone went sour? Again, I’m not saying Malone is right about how the Jazz handled the Sloan situation. I just know the Jazz could have handled this minor disagreement without trashing the man who built their franchise. Greg Miller comes across as an arrogant prick who holds grudges over the most asinine shit.
Your father would be ashamed, Greg.