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KG Versus Series: KG takes on the Mailman

Posted by shawn cassidy on July 30, 2012 at 12:55 AM

Karl Malone to me is the greatest power forward to play the game. He's without an NBA championhsip. But he has two finals under his belt, and he's a former  two time NBA MVP. Maybe Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward, when your talking about championships, and overall game. Tim can score, and he plays defense at the highest level.

But how does KG stack up against Malone? Well, KG has the resume, and he's one up on Malone. Garnett has a ring, and Malone searched for a title for two decades. KG could relate with Malone. Kevin waited 13 seasons for an NBA championship.

 During the 1996-97 season, Malone put up a resurgent 27.4 points per game while leading the Jazz to a 64–18 record, the most regular season wins in team history. Malone won his first NBA Most Valuable Player award, and the Jazz were the top team in the Western Conference and the playoff champions in that conference. After sweeping the Los Angeles Clippers and defeating the Los Angeles Lakers, the Jazz took on the Houston Rockets, led by the aging trio of Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and Clyde Drexler.

The Jazz beat them in six games (the last victory coming on a last-second shot by Stockton). Malone finally got to the Finals in 1997, where they played the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. In a matchup of the two previous MVPs, the Bulls took the first two games at the United Center. Malone struggled from the field, going 6 of 20 for 20 points in Game Two. However the Jazz won the next two games at the Delta Center behind Malone's 37 points in Game 3 and 23 in Game 4, including a game-winning fastbreak lay-up off a spectacular assist by Stockton in the last minute. The Bulls took the next two games and the series, with Malone struggling from the foul line in the pivotal Game 6.

The next season saw the Jazz once again dominate. Malone put up 27 points per game and just missed out on his second MVP award, losing to Jordan. Nevertheless, the Jazz posted a 62–20 record, which was the best in the NBA. The Jazz once again were seated at the top of the Western Conference, and in the 1998 playoffs they defeated the Rockets, Spurs, and Lakers (via a sweep) en route to their second consecutive Finals appearance. The rematch with the Chicago Bulls would start differently, as Malone put up 21 points and the Jazz won Game 1, 88–85. Malone found himself unable to put up consistently high numbers, due in large part to the swarming defense of defenders Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen. In Game 5 of the 1998 Finals, Malone led the Jazz in scoring with 39 points, and the Jazz beat the Bulls 83-81 in Chicago. Malone scored his 39 points on 17-for-27 shooting and also made 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 turnover. Many of his shots were "mid-range turnaround jumpers from the left side."

A sixth game of the Finals was held at the Jazz' home court, the Delta Center at Salt Lake City, and by trailing the series 3-2 the team was one loss away from losing the series.Malone scored 31 points and made 11 rebounds. Although the Jazz held leads of 49-45 by halftime and 66-61 after the third quarter, the team squandered their lead in the fourth and would lose after Malone lost a pass in the post. With 18.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Jazz leading 86-85, Bulls guard/forward Michael Jordan stole the ball just passed to Malone and with 5.2 seconds left made a jump shot that gave the Bulls an 87-86 lead. John Stockton missed a potential game-winning jump shot. Jordan's shot has been dubbed as the "greatest feat" in his career, and the Bulls' 1998 title was their third consecutive championship and sixth since 1991.

In the lockout season. Malone would win his second MVP in 1999. Many thought with Jordan retiring, the Jazz were favored to win the NBA Championship. The Jazz would fall to the up, and coming Blazers in the second round.

When I think of KG, and Malone. I look at how well both players played past their primes.  Malone won his second MVP at the age of 36. KG has just turned 36. and I think he's playing MVP quality basketball. Or at least he did during the 2012 playoffs. Despite the decline of Karl's  team and his advancing age, Malone averaged 25.5, 23.2, 22.4, and 20.6 points per game in his last four seasons with Utah. I'm a Malone fan, but some of my feelings changed when he joined the Lakers. I felt betrayed.not only did he join the Lakers, but he left Utah after 18 years. He became a title chaser. Thankfully his quest fell short when the Lakers lost in the 2004 Finals.

So is KG better than Malone? Well, when your talking about defense, of course KG is better, on the offensive end Malone owns KG. KG, and Malone both have a similar game on offense. KG has become a big time pick and roll player. Malone, and Stockton owned that simple play. KG will forever have the leg up on Malone. Kevin has a ring, and hell. Kevin is looking for a second. Kevin may not be a better player, but KG is a better winner.

Here is a bonus: This is what I wrote last year, when I did this series.

One of the greatest players without a ring. Malone was physically gifted,and he worked on his game 24/7.Having scored 36,298 points in his career, the second most career points in NBA history, and holding the record for most free throws both attempted and made, Malone is generally considered one of the greatest NBA power forwards. Without a doubt in my mind if Malone had beaten Jordan,and the Bulls at least once in the 90's. Malone would be the greatest power forward ever. Malone was still gifted,and perhaps the best scoring power forward in league history. Malone ended his career with a scoring average of 25 a game,and 10 boards a game.

In 1997 and 1999, Malone won the NBA Most Valuable Player award. Malone appeared in the playoffs every season in his career, including three NBA Finals: in 1997 and 1998 with the Jazz and in 2004 with the Lakers. The Jazz became a team I liked during the mid 90's. I loved Stockton,and Malone they became my escape when it was playoff time when the Celtics were home. I always felt bad for the duo,and their quest for a title. Just like most players from his generation. Nobody could beat Jordan in the finals.

How would KG compare to Malone? Malone was better on offense. Malone became a shooter from 15 feet out later in his career much like KG of today. In their younger days both players could throw it down,and they both played around the basket. Malone had the bulk,but KG has the length,and height. Malone was solid on defense,but KG takes it to a different level. Garnett has the title over Malone,but does that mean he's a greater player? My heart says KG is better,but my mind says Malone. Malone endured until he was 40,and he was averaging 20 a game at age 39. He played over 80 games in every regular season until his final season. I will give this win to KG.Here is why. KG never had a Stockton. KG carried teams by himself for years,and he made the playoffs despite exiting out of the first round every year except one in Sota.  He came close to have a Stockton type player,but that was broken up in two,and a half years after Marbury was traded. He had one stint in 2003-04 when he had Sam,and Spree. When KG got the talent he used them,and  he won a title.

KG wins by a small amount. A real small amount. KG sacrificed his offense for the team. I believe he could have scored like Malone if he wanted to be selfish,but it's never been KG to be selfish. KG doesn't have the high career totals like Malone. That doesn't matter. I think KG  can handle Malone,and I think he can score on Malone without question.

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Reply Greg
03:10 AM on July 30, 2012 
KG and Duncan to me. Beat out Malone,and Barkley.
Reply paul
08:18 AM on July 30, 2012 
To me, the nineties was the decade of overrated Bigs. Admittedly, guys like Olajuwon, Ewing, Malone, Robinson and O'Neil put up staggering scoring numbers, and they took up a lot of room in the paint. All were great, but the nineties weren't even the only decade jam-packed with great Bigs. Look at the seventies. Kareem, Cowens, Reed, Walton, Gilmore, Unseld, Macadoo, Malone, the Big E, and on and on. Sheesh!

The thing about the seventies and nineties is that they were both decades where there were a lot of great Bigs, and where the Bigs got a lot of glitz and glory, but the true decade of the Bigs was the sixties. The seventies were, as I see it, the decade of the rise of the Small Forward. The eighties were the decade of the Point Guard. The nineties were the decade of, well, Michael Jordan.

When I look at scoring numbers, I always think of Larry Bird. Really, don't you think Larry Bird could have averaged 30 ppg, pretty much for his career, if he really wanted to? I think he could have. If I had to pick a favorite Big from the nineties, it would probably be Barkley. I admit, I'm really drawn to overachievers. I have a prejudice against Bigs who don't seem to make the most of their gifts, which - to me - includes nearly all of them. The thing I like about Shaq is that he really made the most of his size - as we saw when he came to the Celtics, even at the end of his career he could really establish a presence in the paint. But he never really did develop a true skill game, did he? Guys like Ewing, Robinson and Malone - I say, look at their rebounds. yes, I know, there were fewer rebounds when they played, and they were harder to come by, but still. Rodman could find his way to rebounds, with far less sheer physical dominance than those other guys had. The same decade when giant Bigs were proud of ten rebounds a game, Rodman was grabbing 18. !

The way I see it, when a pivot guy is the focal point of the offense the way Malone was, he really needs to be scoring a lot more than 30ppg. Admittedly, Malone had a lot of assists, which I think is part of the reason why Utah did so well, and why he stands as tall as he does in NBA history, but I still felt like he dominated the ball too much for how much he scored, and his percentages seem to bear this out. I don't know, maybe it's a subtle thing I'm talking about. The difference between a player who is like a lead weight in the middle of the spider web that is the team, and a player who makes the whole web sparkle.

I like guys like KG and Duncan better. We'll always wonder what those guys could have accomplished had they developed better post up games, and had they liked banging in the paint more than they did, but they were guys who always thought about their role in the overall strength of the team. Surely both guys could have averaged much closer to 30ppg. Both of them, at the very ends of their careers, boasting unimpressive statistics, are possibly better at raising the play of their TEAMS than they ever were.

Malone was a great player, but I'll take KG, and it's not a decision I'd even hesitate over.

When I talk about someone being the focal point, though, I'm thinking a difference between guys who handle the ball a lot, and off whom the offense constantly plays, and guys whom the offense is designed to feature constantly. The way I see it, if the offense is designed to get the ball to you, you had darned well better be Kareem - and even Kareem was always a great passer. The way I see it, the truly great players handle the ball a lot, and are a constant threat to score, but they are always thinking not only about their own shot, but about doing things that help teammates score. And it's not just Bigs who can be leaden weights to an offense. Look at Melo. Look at our own Ray Ray. The distinction might be subtle in some ways, but I think it is the key to true greatness.
Reply Franklin
11:52 AM on July 30, 2012 
Good read, and Id take KG, because he is the total package. ANd clutch. Give me Kevin!
Reply Birdman33
11:54 AM on July 30, 2012 
I like Malone also. But if was building a team, KG would be the guy for me.His winning ways. His defense,and how he can motivate otheres wins me over. Kevin, will never be that type of scorer, because KG is all around.
Reply paul
12:48 PM on July 30, 2012 
Take KG, add Paul Pierce, and mix in Rajon Rondo, and you have the start of an alltime great team right there!
Reply Franklin
01:30 PM on July 30, 2012 
paul says...
Take KG, add Paul Pierce, and mix in Rajon Rondo, and you have the start of an alltime great team right there!

Minus Ray Allen of course.lol




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