Anyone who has followed Karl Malone's career with the Jazz knows that the whole relationship he has had with the management and the ownership of the team hasn't been easy.
But then when one is dealing with millions of dollars and high profile egos, on both sides, what else could we expect.
I think the common fan always related to John Stockton better than they did Malone, mostly because he was the guy who never complained about making millions of dollars a year or the conditions under which he must play.
Both were tremendous players for the Jazz and took most of us with them (not in body but in mind) to places few Jazz fans would have ever dreamed the team could go when they moved here with a burned out Pete Maravich as their star 24 years ago.
As of this morning (Wednesday) all the national media is saying that Malone is going to sign with the Lakers in a week largely because that move will almost guarantee him a championship ring, about the only thing he has failed to win during his storied career. Some people will hold this move against him. But who can blame him. In fact, I kind of admire him for it, because he is taking a real chance. Players who have left the Jazz to toil for other teams, no matter what the reason, have usually faltered and failed at the purpose for which they left. True, none of them have been of the stature Malone has achieved, but nonetheless there seems to be a curse on players who leave the Utah team.
Rising young stars like Howard Eiseley and Shandon Anderson, have found only mediocrity by moving on. And those are only the most recent individuals who made the mistake. I could go back years, finding a dozen players who decided the grass was greener on the other side of the fence and then just found a dried up field of stubble when they arrived on that side of the wire.
But besides the unfortunate record for those that have left, Malone is basically giving up two other valuable items: winning the all time scoring title from Kareem Abdul Jabbar and a lot of dough.
With the number of players who like to have the ball on the Lakers this next season, the Wilson Sporting Goods Company will need to double their output of basketballs this year. Under the circumstances, Malone will have little chance of catching Jabbar on that team. At Utah he would have had that chance since the offense probably would have been built around him.
He will also only make a little more than a million bucks next year playing basketball. Now for us common types, we wouldn't mind playing a game we love for a cool million for a few months, but for him that's a 90 percent pay cut from the past.
But I can relate to Malone's dream, at least a little. I moved to Carbon County 13 years ago, because it had been my dream to live somewhere like this all my life. When I came here all my friends thought I was nuts, because I was giving up job offers for two and three times the money that I could make other places. But as I always tell my kids, "You have your own dreams you have to follow. You can't stay here because I live here or other people you know want you to stay. You have to do what is right for you."
This is a great opportunity for Malone and I wish him well. I hope he gets that championship ring he so much deserves. It's just too bad that Stockton won't have one to wear too.