Karl's car sales keep on cruising despite his mouth

Published: Friday, Nov. 13 1998 12:00 a.m. MST

He whines, he complains and now he wants to be traded.

Would you buy a car from this man?Utahns apparently are willing to let Karl Malone sell them a new or used vehicle even if he doesn't plan a return to the Utah Jazz.

It was business as usual Thursday at two Sandy dealerships co-owned by Malone, although employees at both Karl Malone Toyota and Stockton to Malone Honda admitted there has been some fallout from comments Malone made Wednesday on his Los Angeles-based radio talk show.

Malone told his radio audience Wednesday that when the NBA lockout ends, he will demand that Jazz owner Larry Miller trade him to another team, preferably the Los Angeles Lakers. Malone said he has "played my last game in Salt Lake City" and added it is "time for Karl to move on."

John Chambers, a sales manager at the Honda dealership, said one customer told him Wednesday night he would be taking his business elsewhere because of what Malone said.

And Alecia Anderson, a receptionist at the Toyota place next door, said one customer called Thursday morning to cancel an appointment with the service department because of Malone's comments.

But Anderson said she also received three calls in support of Malone's comments. One man called and asked for a salesman, telling Anderson he wanted to buy a car from Malone because the Mailman is not getting what he deserves from the Jazz.

Several customers in the Karl Malone Toyota showroom Thursday afternoon said they either support Malone in his pursuit of a bigger NBA contract or don't care about his latest contract-related diatribe.

Kitty Kmetzsch of Salt Lake City didn't like Malone's comments, but she and her husband Dale do like salesman George Iongi. They had been working with Iongi to purchase a new Toyota Landcruiser and came back Thursday to finalize the deal. They weren't going to let Karl's comments distract them.

"He offended me, but I still love his face," Kitty said of Malone. "I think he's a terrific man, not just because he can play good ball."

Alex Edwards, 21, of South Jordan, said he came into the dealership Thursday because he likes Toyotas, not because of Karl Malone.

Sid Halford of Riverton said he has been in the market for a car and just happened to be driving by Malone's dealership Thursday. He dismissed Malone's recent remarks as posturing.

"I think he'll end up staying in Utah," he said. "I think he's a little frustrated right now."

Don Pomikala of Salt Lake City, who was buying a used car, and Trale Mathis of Taylorsville were not bothered in the least by Malone's on-air outburst.

Andrew Madsen, who co-owns and manages Karl Malone Toyota, said the dealership sold nine cars Tuesday and nine more on Wednesday. It had already sold four cars by 2 p.m Thursday, well before the normal peak of the sales day.

There was not as much activity over at Stockton to Malone, but sales managers were not worried.

"We're far more concerned about how Honda continues to build quality cars than we are with what life decisions Karl Malone makes," said Gordon Eakin, business development manager for the dealership. "We support John Stockton and Karl Malone in whatever they do."

Malone, a free agent at the end of this season, co-owns the two Utah Auto Mall dealerships and Karl Malone Toyota in Albuquerque, N.M. The Albuquerque dealership has performed well since it opened in early 1994, despite the fact that Malone lives and plays outside the state.

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