Before “The Last Dance”, Scottie Pippen delivered six words of trashy talk that changed the history of the NBA


MICHAEL JORDAN MISSED. With 35.8 seconds left in the opening game of the 1997 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz, the greatest player in NBA history has in fact just achieved what should have been the winning free throw. And now for about 26 seconds the basketball world is in chaos: Jordan is, for the moment, Err Jordan, a tiny goat, and the voters who had carefully selected Utah forward Karl Malone on Michael (986-957) for the MVP league seems to have understood correctly. Meanwhile, the Jazz are ready to steal the first game with an advantage on the field, and the fifth Chicago title and possibly the second hat-trick are suddenly threatened.

And then, at the Scottie Pippen rescue stages. Future Hall of Fame, Pippen remains at this point an introvert, the guy who stepped away from this kind of late-game spotlight in the 1990 and 1994 playoffs. But with 9.2 seconds remaining and Malone at the foul line with a chance to seal the win, Pippen conjures up and delivers the greatest trash talk line in sport history.

It is a line loaded with fascinating cultural, statistical and historical subtext. A line so intelligent that it saves a heritage, rewrites another and destroys a third. And a line that will eventually set the table for the Chicago Bulls of 1997-1998 and “The Last Dance”, the documentary which, 23 years later, will keep us all sane during a pandemic without sport.

Six magic words, so influential and controversial that they inspired their own oral history.

LISTEN: ESPN lead writer David Fleming discusses when Scottie Pippen saved the Bulls on ESPN Daily.

A few days before their meeting in the NBA finals, Karl Malone beat Michael Jordan in the MVP vote, 986-957. But MJ would have the last laugh. DOUG COLLIER / AFP / Getty Images

“It must be Karl Malone here. Now is the time for the MVP, “NBC analyst Bill Walton exclaims after Jordan’s foul, as the Jazz set up in their attack on the half court with a score tied at 82. But with the clock of the shots at: 02 and the Bulls’ defense, John Stockton forces a 3 that hits the back of the rim so hard that it springs completely in front of the left wing. (Bulls keeper Steve Kerr said the rim is loose compared to Chicago’s mascot’s excessive dunks, Benny the Bull.) As Malone jerks sideways to correlate the rebound, a trailing Dennis Rodman climbs his back and is called for a loose bullet foul.

During the first 47 minutes and 50.8 seconds of these finals, Malone experienced an absolute tear: 23 points, 15 rebounds, 3 of 4 on the line. And 9.2 seconds from the end, the newly crowned NBA player heads for the line with a chance to rewrite the history of the sport.

Brad Rock, Deseret News columnist, 1994-2019: I was saying that 19,911 people couldn’t make more noise than Jazz fans, and it was like that in Chicago too. When Karl walked to the line, it was deafening in this stadium. My ears rang for days.

Dave Allred, vice president of public relations and communications for Utah Jazz, 1981-2003: We entered this series with the hope, “I hope we can be competitive. I hope we can get them to seven games. And then you get there and you find yourself in this environment and the intensity is so great and you really have the opportunity to win the game. I mean, there was a real sense of hope. … We sit there thinking, “OK, when we win, NBC will want this person right after the game and then we have to find a coach [Jerry] Sloan and go back to the locker room. “We were already in post-victory work mode.

Jason Caffey, Bulls before: When Karl stepped onto the line, it was like Tupac’s song “All Eyez on Me”: You have the whole world looking at you there, just then. You are on an island all by yourself.

Rock: It was Karl’s match to take. A free throw and maybe the history of the NBA is very different.

Malone and Jazz played a physical style, leading the NBA in free throws in 1996-97. But going to the line has not always been an advantage. JEFF HAYNES / AFP / Getty Images

While the Bulls fans behind the basket are already waving white wavy balloons, Malone begins his pre-launch ritual. It’s an elaborate sequence that begins with a series of dribbles, spinning the ball in the air in front of his face, half-squats and a secret, whispered, centered mantra – “It’s for Kay and the baby. After wrestling powerfully with the free throw line early in her NBA career, Malone developed the ritual with the help of a psychological consultant.

Playing in the physical half-court style of Jazz, with a relentless interior screen and endless pick-and-rolls, Malone relied heavily on this free throw technique. After the matches, his upper body was often interspersed with deep stripes. (He inflicted as much punishment as he endured, however, by knocking out David Robinson and Isiah Thomas’ open eyebrow.) Malone led the NBA eight times in free throws and in 1996-97 he led the NBA free throws (521) and attempted free throws (690).

But his free throw was not always a strength.

Frank Layden, jazz coach, general manager and president, 1979-1999: Karl’s rookie year was so bad they would dirty it on purpose. It was like Hack-a-Shaq. I said, “Look, you can be just another palooka in this league. You’re a big tough guy and you can hit with everyone and you’ll be playing for a long time and have a chance to be really good. But if you want to be great, you have to work on your set. And he became an excellent fault shooter through hard work.

Sam Smith, Chicago Tribune, author of the bestseller “The Jordan Rules”: He was more like Shaq in this sense: in practice, he won 80%, then he went out and the game stopped and everyone looked at him and he tensed up. Now he had to be a better free throw shooter working on it, but if there was ever an opportunity to shake someone, that was it.

Karen McDermott, author of the study “The effects of verbal abuse on motivation and performance in a competitive environment”: The best lines of trash talk are either very brutal, very cheeky or very intelligent. You have this ideal image of yourself, and when it is undermined by trash, you start to wonder who you think you are as a person, what your identity is, which causes a very strong reaction of anger and shame. … If you are sensitive to this kind of suggestion, it is now in your mind. It’s like, “OK, now the pressure is really on. “

Greg Ostertag, Jazz center: You know what nobody ever mentions? Karl still had a big court burn on his [shooting] hand he got in the conference final against Houston, and every time he went to the line in Chicago, he looked at him.

Mike Shimensky, jazz coach, in 1997: He felt good until he went for a dunk [in the third quarter of Game 1]. He made it worse.

Black-smith: No one on Jerry Sloan’s team would ever want to hear that, about an injury as an excuse. Jerry and Karl were the last person to claim an injury.

Layden: We were playing an exhibition game in Mexico once and Karl pushed his big finger to his wrist. I mean, it was a mess. They’re taking him to the locker room, and we all stand to talk to the doctor about his return tonight, how it might require surgery, and while we talk, we hear Karl doing “AHHHHH”, and he had pulled his finger up and said to our coach, “Tape it up. “It was an exhibition game.

Caffey: Karl was another level of strength. We were in Miami once for a game, and I was in a Gold’s Gym and they said, “Oh, you just missed Jazz. Of course, I ask, “What did Karl bench? “And they were like he had four plates on each side [405 pounds] and he threw it away with ease.

Malone in 1997: When I get dressed, I’m ready to play and I have no excuses at all. You play through a lot. Plus, this is the NBA Finals – what am I supposed to do about it?

With the help of a psychological consultant and a free throw routine that involved a series of rounds and dribbles, Malone had increased his percentage of free throws after a rookie season in which he had drawn less than 50% of line. JEFF HAYNES / AFP / Getty Images

Malone’s hand was just one of many intrigues leading up to the 1997 NBA Finals that collided inside the United Center at that time. Standing on the side, just above Malone’s right shoulder, was Jordan. With the transcendent GM, most of the bulls were household names. Sometimes for the wrong reasons. Until then, Pippen, not Malone, was best known for not delivering in two crucial late game situations during the playoffs. In 1990, Pippen went 1 in 10 in a Game 7 loss to the Pistons while battling a migraine, and in 1994, he earned the nickname “Sitting Bull” when he refused to enter the game for the last 1.8 seconds of a game against the Knicks just because the final game was for Toni Kukoc, not him.

Meanwhile, in 1997, in its first final, Utah was seen as the small market scrappy team that still received calls. Jazz has led the NBA this season in both free throws (1858) and free throws (1796). Jazz was such a mom-and-pop operation that the person who escorted Jordan to his post-match media session was the 11-year-old daughter of the team’s public relations manager. Malone fits in perfectly. Raised in rural Louisiana, he enjoys hunting, fishing, driving trucks and, according to Rock, complaining about his high taxes under President Bill Clinton. Malone may have worked hard to promote a blue collar image, but the cast and the stereotypes quickly got out of hand. Jim Rome went so far as to call Malone “the only African American redneck in the world”. And the Bulls took ugliness to another level. Coach Phil Jackson called Stockton and Malone dirty players and called Mormonism “cult.” Forward Bison Dele said Salt Lake City smelled like brine shrimp. Dennis Rodman explained his poor game by saying, “It is difficult to synchronize because of all the Mormons here. ”

Contrasts spread across the court and even into the team’s hotel.

Ostertag: People hated playing against us because we were going to hit you. We were going to kick you out, you were going to get tested. Much of the credit goes to Jerry Sloan. That’s how he played and that’s how he trained. Jerry was the kind of player who would go there, break his nose, go out, wipe the blood and come right back in, and that’s how he built his teams too.

Rock: Jerry Sloan’s teams haven’t done much fraternization. But I think the opponents didn’t like Malone because of his elbows, not because he was a country guy.

Black-smith: It wasn’t like Karl was any target. Scottie was a rural area of ​​Arkansas; they were both children of the South with the same kind of experience, small schools, hunting and fishing. And that’s probably why he did it. If anything, he felt more comfortable and more related to Malone than to the other players. Maybe Scottie thought he could have fun with Karl that he couldn’t do with others.

More on “The Last Dance”

Rock: The Jazz had John Stockton, who did not say a word, and the Mailman was not really a trash-talker, and in the final, they collided with a team which had sharpened its trash-talk knives while playing in Detroit Pistons over the years. Phil Jackson was pretty good in the psychological realm, and even if he was not, he certainly believed him. It was a lot of play from the Bulls.

Caffey: Michael was relentless with the trashy conversation. I mean, he was talking about everything – everything; he would talk about your coffee.

Antoine Carr, jazz striker: The hardest part of playing with the Bulls has always been trying to figure out how to play them and dealing with the referees at the same time. Because you know that if you hit Jordan, you get a fault.

Ostertag: In general, I saw trash talk affect Karl the other way around. Mikki Moore was [with Detroit] at the end of the 90s. We played them once, and he came down and scored, like, two possessions in a row on Karl, and he backed out on the field, yelling, “Give me the ball! This mother can not hold me! And Grant Hill, who was with the Pistons at the time, rushes over to him in the middle of the game and says “Shut.” Tea. F -. Up. You don’t say s – to guys like this. But it was too late. I think Karl was mid 30 in this game, maybe even 40 points. It still makes me laugh when I think of Grant Hill running towards Moore saying, “Duuuuude, no-no-no-no, idiot, you don’t bite the bear. “

Caffey: I have a lot of respect for the postman. There was only one alligator in this pond that was harder than him, and that was Michael Jordan. … We got all of our swagger from Michael. Scottie was laid back and simple. He took me under his wing. Ron Harper? I hate this guy, he was so insecure. Dennis never said two words. Steve Kerr and Jud Buechler and I, Phil Jackson we said it was our responsibility to go out with Dennis and watch him when he went out drinking during the week and make sure he didn’t have too many problems .

Carr: One thing I enjoyed playing with the Bulls was different: the city of Chicago was always trying to do something too. You’d be in your hotel room the night before a Chicago final game and suddenly a Playboy model would show up at your door with a cake. This has happened to me more than once. … They appear in a trench coat, and when they get to present your cake to you, the coat comes off and it’s “Welcome to Chicago! But if you are a young man and all you can think of the night before the finals is a beautiful girl now, that will completely eject you. It didn’t work for me. It was a good cake, however.

Black-smith: Scottie has had so much tribulation in the playoffs. It was a rare opportunity for everyone to write about Scottie and quote Scottie with something of humor and elevation and something other than “I have a migraine” or the 1.8 seconds of “I don’t not because Toni Kukoc got the hang of it or Scottie was not a finisher and he never made the last hit. Nationally, this stuff was still hanging around Scottie. So for him to give that final blow to Michael’s set-up, it was almost the perfect example of how they were the ultimate tag team, how they came together: Scottie with the great one-liner and Michael with the last shot.

Black-smith: It was a poetic ending.

Pippen was not known for his trashy conversation prowess, which could have made his interaction with Malone even more effective. Jed Jacobsohn / Allsport

Before taking his place in the right block for Malone’s first free throw, Pippen slipped it in front of the line, stopping just long enough to say the six biggest words in the history of the trash can.

Pippen: I just whispered in his ear: “The postman doesn’t deliver on Sundays. “

McDermott: Whenever a line of trashy speech confronts us with the reality of who we are and the limits of our abilities, it tends to provoke anger and shame. Making a free throw requires control and focus, not brute force. Anger and shame make it difficult to control the fine motor functions that you would need to perform something like a free throw.

Pippen: It was from the top of my head, freestyle.

McDermott: This makes it all the more impressive. There was no way he could have held the whole game and wait up to 10 seconds for Malone to be on the free throw line. He wanted to do it before that. So that gives credence to the idea that it really came to his mind at the time.

Black-smith: This is one of the trash talk lines of all time, and the great irony is that it is from a guy who doesn’t have trash talk.

Pippen: It wasn’t really personal. Karl was my guy. Sometimes he even picked me up from the airport when we were in Utah. My relationship with him goes far beyond basketball. It was a joke because my brother was a postman.

McDermott: When you’re used to someone talking about litter all the time, you can learn to filter it out. But if it comes from an unexpected source, it strikes you even more. So if he had expected it from Jordan or Rodman and that’s not where it comes from, and it hits you on the blind side, the lack of expectations makes it more impactful.


Mark Giangreco, WLS-TV Chicago Sports Presenter: People have forgotten how funny, smart and smart and cool Scottie was, but when you’re still the Batman Robin, he gets lost in the jet stream behind Michael Jordan. He always had it in him. Remember when Scottie dived on Ewing and then stood over him and got involved with Spike Lee? People always think about Reggie Miller chats with Spike Lee. But trust me, no one ever gave it to Spike Lee like Scottie did.

Pippen: Spike was not my hero at the time. When he came into my house and was talking about the garbage, I just said to him, “Sit down. “

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McDermott: In this particular case, perhaps accidentally, Scottie Pippen really exploited this idea of ​​ideal ego and the image that Karl Malone had worked very hard to build – the Mailman, the guy who always delivers – and he undermined.

Black-smith: You say this line to Michael Jordan, it would have no effect. It wouldn’t have worked for John Stockton either. He would have been oblivious.

Ostertag: It is difficult to say if it affected him. You get to the line with the game on the line, there is nothing to say. He missed a few free throws. You know, Steph Curry misses the free throws. It happens.

Caffey: Any whispered word, in negativity or positivity, adds to the tension. I don’t care if you are a Zen master, whatever you hear at that time will always come through your brain, one way or another.

Malone’s routine goes smoothly. Dribble. Whirling. Capture. Whirling. Capture. Bounce. “It’s for Kay and the baby. So far in the 1997 playoffs, Malone has made 78% of his free throws. And for his career, he turns out to be a 77% free thrower on Sunday – the highest of all days of the week. But after digesting Pippen’s line, all of the kinetic sweetness seems to flow from Malone’s movement. With a locked elbow, he shakes the ball with his fingertips and slams badly on the right rear side of the rim, bouncing halfway on the left baseline.

Pippen immediately walks past Malone in the painting, apparently to remind him of what just happened. The postman laughs, “Yeah, yeah,” before walking away, hands on hips, toward the half court to calm down.

McDermott: Once Malone missed the first, it was almost inevitable that he would miss the second. Because now the idea that Pippen had planted had really taken hold.

Black-smith: If there is a ranking of these things, and I have no doubt that someone probably created such a list – then this line should definitely be there. The perfect thing about it was the intelligence: it’s Sunday, it’s the postman. It’s okay. It was like a great introduction to a short story: the perfect tone at the perfect time, which you don’t hit very often.

Pippen: It was a big game. We needed this game. [I didn’t know I had gotten to him] until he has bricked them.

Jordan fought over 40 rebounds in the 1997 final, including Malone’s second unsuccessful free throw attempt. Noren Trotman / NBAE / Getty Images

Dribble. Whirling. Capture. Whirling. Capture. Bounce. Whisper. Once the second shot is in the air, Malone is so certain that he enters, he begins to back off to defend himself. The balloon skims the front of the rim and enters the cylinder halfway before ricocheting into the hands of Jordan, who inexplicably foiled 6-9 Carr for the rebound. Malone can’t believe it. He turns away, closes his eyes and drops his chin against his chest. During the Bulls’ timeout, Malone can be seen cursing himself.

The shame and anger that McDermott says he probably knows are well deserved: in the past 40 years, Malone is one of three players to have missed multiple free throws with a chance to take the lead in the last minute. ‘a final match.

Malone in 1997: I’m from Summerfield, Louisiana, and we have no excuses. I have no excuses and I will not use any. I did not make free throws. They felt good. I just didn’t do it. These were great free throws, but it shouldn’t have been just that.

Caffey: These two shots could have determined this whole streak for Utah, so Karl will never experience that. He’s going to have it in his head for the rest of his life.

All red: It may be my fault. Just as Karl is about to shoot, I turn to Kim Turner, one of our other PR guys, and say, “We’re going to win this game! You instantly go from total euphoria to “Oh my God no” and just when it can’t get worse you see Jordan with the ball.

Pippen drives the ball over the arch at Kukoc and sets a screen for Jordan from the left block. Top of the key with 1.7 seconds to the left, Utah Bryon Russell kicks the ball with his right hand, leaving him out of balance, now completely at the mercy of Jordan. Jordan slides left up the Bulls logo and rises to 21 feet. The picture is so pure that the net barely shivers. Jordan takes his classic game-winner pose – his upper lip tucked in, his right fist punching the air – when Pippen, the one who made it all happen, arrives and wraps him in his arms.

Jordan delivered (Sunday) and Pippen, who may have avoided the disaster, was the first to celebrate with him. VINCENT LAFORET / AFP / Getty Images

Jordan in 1997: At the end of the road, it was pinching and withdrawing, and it could have gone both ways. You know, I missed a free throw. Karl goes down and misses two free throws. So, I mean, the MVPs didn’t do too many things until I was able to hit the nail on the head. It came and went, and whoever made the best games in the game would win the game.

Ostertag: Apparently, it entered Karl’s head. Karl would say no, he just missed it, and that may be true. It’s part of being one of the greatest of all time. Kobe, Shaq, LeBron, Jordan – in our sport you cannot play in the past. Pippen says what he says. You missed those free throws. OKAY. These free throws are not the reason we lost this game. You have to come back, play defense and try to prevent them from scoring on the next possession. We did not do it.

Giangreco: Malone was upset. Someone repeated the line to him after the game and asked him about it, and he was really short with them. The level of frustration was so high.

Black-smith: He was defensive and down and tried to sweep him away, but you could tell he was embarrassed too.

Malone in 1997: It didn’t bother me. Scottie and I are competitors and I consider him a friend. I can say that because I don’t have many friends in the league.

Pippen: I hate that this quote was never published because no one really received it. It was no longer a joke between us.

Giangreco: We couldn’t hear what he said on the pitch during the match. At the press conference, someone asked, “What did you say there? And that devouring smile crosses her face. He had loaded it in the bedroom and you could tell he was anxious to repeat it. He was so excited. So, with this big, deep and huge baritone, he says: “I just said:” The postman does not deliver on Sunday “,” and he laughs himself, and the whole room has cracked. Everyone has gone mad. And Scottie enjoyed every second of it.

Black-smith: Everyone in the press room was fighting over this line. I’m going to use it in my story. No, I use it in my column. Especially because it was Pippen. Scottie wasn’t exactly the kind of light guy. It wasn’t someone who was quick with a joke, really never. … It was something Jordan would have said. It would have been Jordan’s perfect trash talk line, so much so that we always wondered if Jordan had given him food. No one has ever given in to this.

Pippen says he regrets that the line never came out, but reporters were too happy to fight for his unexpected burn after the match. Randy Belice / NBAE / Getty Images

Rock: I wrote something like, “Sure it would be Jordan, how could you expect this to happen? It bothered Malone. I don’t know if he was afraid. The head game was hard for him. It’s a fascinating case study. It affected him at the time and he missed those two free throws and that game really set the tone for the whole series.

Black-smith: Jordan laughed at the line after, I’m pretty sure. He was asked about it and he congratulated Scottie. I think Jordan recognized that, yes, Scottie had released him, that Scottie had also saved him with this Mailman line. And the Bulls never dragged in a series in their second hat-trick.

Caffey: This sentence became like a joke in the locker room. Everyone said so. It was the team’s speech. Like when a rapper releases a great replica and everyone repeats this replica. This is how we were as a team, singing this line out loud, The Postman does not deliver on Sundays.

Carr: I don’t think it has anything to do with Pippen. I just think the Bulls were lucky. They got the right calls at the right time, otherwise it would have been Utah Jazz with the championship. One or two calls in this thing, it changes all the complexion and then it is a documentary on the first championship of Jazz. So we continue with the story about the great Michael Jordan.

All red: I am always moved by the way we were about to win this game and steal a game that no one would have ever expected to win. But we have felt it over and over again in these final games over the next two years. This kind of benchmark set the standard for the next two years of the finals.

McDermott: If you only look at unique lines, it’s definitely up there. Because it was so smart and so crucial in terms of results.

Pippen: To date, I think it’s the best basketball line.

Three days later, a still shaken Malone shot 6 of 20 and finished with 20 points in a 97-85 loss in the second game. Thereafter, jazz coach Sloan said, “I thought we were intimidated from the start of the game. . ”

Mais après son retour à Salt Lake City, Malone a répondu, marquant 37 lors d’une victoire au match 3. Lorsqu’on lui a demandé pourquoi Rodman avait eu du mal à garder le facteur, Jordan a répondu: « Il va contre l’un des 50 meilleurs joueurs du jeu – Karl Malone n’est pas de la viande à déjeuner. » Dans le match n ° 4, le dimanche 8 juin, Malone s’est retrouvé dans une position familière: à la ligne des lancers francs avec Utah en avance de 1 et 18 secondes pour jouer. Cette fois, lorsque Pippen a essayé de livrer à nouveau la ligne, Malone et le Jazz étaient prêts. Le gardien de l’Utah, Jeff Hornacek, a bloqué le chemin de Pippen vers Malone, qui a coulé les deux lancers francs. (La ligne n’étant plus efficace, lors des finales de 1998, Harper a recouru à « Rogaine! » En criant à Malone pendant qu’il tirait sur les lancers francs, une référence aux publicités sur la croissance des cheveux qui présentaient l’attaquant Jazz.)

Malone en 1997: Je savais ce qu’il faisait, essayant de me parler. Il m’a toujours parlé pendant tout le tournage.

Hornacek en 1997: Karl a dit que Scottie l’avait contacté plus tôt et avait dit que le facteur ne livrait pas le dimanche. Et Karl a dit quelque chose en retour, « Ouais, mais Federal Express le fera. » Scottie se dirigeait lentement vers Karl, et je pensais qu’il allait dire quelque chose de plus, et je voulais juste m’interposer entre eux et ne pas le laisser y ajouter plus de mots.

Malone en 1997: Dans la vie, parfois, vous n’avez jamais de deuxième chance. En tant que joueur, vous souhaitez parfois avoir une autre opportunité. Et j’ai fait.

Pippen en 1997: Je suppose qu’il livre ici le dimanche.

La livraison du facteur est restée au mieux erratique en finale. Le Jazz a perdu les Jeux 5 et 6 et les Bulls étaient maintenant aux deux tiers du chemin de leur deuxième triplé. Tout compte fait, l’Utah a perdu trois matchs en finale de 1997 par un total de huit points, et dans ces matchs serrés, après que Pippen ait abandonné sa ligne emblématique, Malone a tiré 12 des 26 sur les lancers francs. Sa performance en finale a amené tout le monde, y compris Malone lui-même, à se demander si les électeurs MVP avaient fait une erreur.

Malone en 1997: [The greatest player in the game] est Michael Jordan, comme tout le monde le pense. Dans le dernier tronçon, Michael voulait le ballon en temps de crise, l’a obtenu, a fait le tir. Il est difficile de discuter de cela.

Forgeron: Cela a fini par être la série avec le «jeu de la grippe» en Jordanie, avec une Jordanie malade s’effondrant dans les bras de Pippen. Et une fois que cela s’est produit, cela a tout éclipsé. D’ici là, personne ne se souvient même de ce qui s’est passé dans le match 1 ou de ce que Pippen a dit à Malone. Ce jeu de la grippe a défini la série, et tout ce qui s’est passé a été emporté par cette inondation.

Malone terminerait sa carrière de 19 ans avec le plus de points (36928, deuxième de tous les temps), le plus de rebonds (14,968, puis septième de tous les temps) et le plus grand nombre d’apparitions en séries éliminatoires (19) dans l’histoire de la NBA parmi les joueurs pour ne jamais gagner un championnat. Il a atteint la finale pour une troisième et dernière fois avec les Lakers de 2003-04.

Roche: En 1996, les Jazz ont perdu un match 7 à Seattle et ont raté leur première chance de se rendre à la finale. Ensuite, il y avait deux bus sur le tarmac de l’aéroport. Je regarde le bus de l’équipe et les joueurs distribuent des paniers-repas, et je vois Karl et il se détend et rit. Personne n’était plus un guerrier pendant les matchs, mais quand c’était fini, Malone pouvait continuer. Je ne pense pas qu’il l’ait pris à la légère; c’était juste, une fois la pression relâchée et le jeu terminé, Karl était prêt à partir à la chasse. Il avait l’air OK. Puis la porte du bus de l’équipe s’ouvre et Stockton descend et il a ce regard de neuf milles, regardant à travers le tarmac et dans le nord-ouest du Pacifique. Il est là, et il ne peut pas vivre avec la perte. Ça le mange vivant. Trente secondes plus tard, la porte du bus s’ouvre à nouveau et voici Jerry. Et j’ai toujours cette image mentale dans ma tête de ces deux là debout, les mains dans les poches, regardant au loin, et de retour dans le bus est le facteur et il est parti.

Malone en 2004: [In Utah] J’ai commencé à dire: «Oh, je dois le ramasser», au lieu de simplement jouer détendu. C’était incroyable, non seulement parce que je recevais le plus d’argent de l’État à l’époque, mais avec cela vient des attentes, et j’ai essayé de l’aborder de la même manière avec le Jazz. Je n’ai jamais vraiment pu en profiter.

Roche: La dernière fois que j’avais entendu, lui et Stockton utilisaient toujours des téléphones à clapet. Parlez de la vieille école. Il y a quelques années, j’ai essayé de lui envoyer un SMS car il ne répond jamais à son téléphone. J’ai donc envoyé plusieurs SMS et finalement un texte est revenu: « Est-ce Brad? » J’ai dit: « Oui, je voulais vous parler de telle ou telle chose. » Et après quelques minutes, il a répondu: « GET REAL. » Et je n’ai plus eu de nouvelles de lui depuis. Donc je suppose qu’il ne regardera pas du tout le documentaire.

Layden: Nous n’avons jamais parlé de la finale. Ce n’était pas un « Alibi Ike ». Il n’a jamais fait d’excuses. Si vous avez perdu, vous avez perdu. That’s all. Walk out and get after it tomorrow.

Rock: Jordan and the Bulls overshadowed everything. But over time, as you look back at it, a lot of people go, « Hey, wait a second, the Jazz were one free throw by the MVP from this whole thing being a completely different story. » Things were close enough in that series to still think even to this day: What if Malone makes those free throws? What if the Jazz win Game 1 in Chicago? A couple things change, starting with those free throws, and history is completely different.

Pippen: To this day, Karl is one of my closest friends. He has never said anything to me about the line.


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