An order for The Mailman's delivery into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has officially been placed.
The nomination paperwork required for Karl Malone to become a member of the Class of 2010 was recently submitted to the hoops haven, a source told the Deseret News. It arrived well ahead of the Nov. 30 deadline, setting in motion the wheels on the postal truck that will ship his basketball legacy to Springfield, Mass.
The official documents and endorsement, by the way, were postmarked in Utah — by the Jazz, Malone's team for 18 years — and not from his last delivery stop in Los Angeles.
Malone played with the Lakers for the 2003-04 season — continuing his championship quest a year after John Stockton retired from the Jazz in '03 — so this is the power forward's first year of eligibility to become a Hall of Famer after a required five-year retirement wait.
And Malone is considered a slam dunk — make that a powerful hammer dunk with his left hand placed behind his head — to be enshrined on his first ballot. His favorite point guard, Stockton, and his longtime coach, Jerry Sloan, received that elite, first-try Hall of Fame honor when they became enshrined with the Class of 2009 in September.
The Jazz might've had to buy extra postage to pay for the paperwork listing the incredibly durable Mailman's accomplishments during his 19-year career. For instance:
— The two-time NBA MVP averaged 25 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals for nearly two decades.
— The rugged and resilient big man played in 1,476 games, including all 82 in 10 different seasons.
— Malone is also the league's second all-time-leading scorer (36,928 points), the sixth-highest rebounder (14,968 boards), the only player ever to be named first-team All-NBA 11 times, one of the 50 greats in history, a 14-time All-Star selection, a two-time gold-medal winner, and the list goes on ...
Jazz president Randy Rigby smiled while saying he considers Malone's Hall of Fame chances to be "very, very good" for 2010.
You could say his nomination was sent C.O.D. — Clinched On Delivery.
"I'd be shocked," Rigby said, "if we don't see Karl as a selection."
Another shocker would be if next year's enshrinement ceremony doesn't have a strong Jazz-Bulls flavor to it like the 2009 event, when Michael Jordan was inducted with 1997 and '98 NBA Finals foes Stockton and Sloan (along with David Robinson and C. Vivian Stringer).
That's because former Bulls great Scottie Pippen — Jordan's dangerous sidekick for six NBA championships — is another sure-bet inductee who's been nominated.
Basketball Hall of Fame historian Matt Zeysing isn't anticipating any surprise snubbings when it comes to Malone and Pippen.
"It's the guys that don't get in that people fret over, and that's not going to be Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen this year," Zeysing, who receives the nominations and forwards them to the selection committee, said in a phone interview. "I guess if one of the two didn't get in, there would really be an uproar."
Speaking of uproars, Dennis Rodman is another first-time nominee who's near-and-dear to Jazz fans' hearts. The forward was known for oft-wacky antics, but he was as dominating defensively and on the glass as he was quirky. Rodman led the NBA in rebounding seven straight years and won five championship rings with Detroit and Chicago in a career that spanned from 1986-2000.
It's possible Malone and Pippen could enter the Hall of Fame in two ways next year. The famous 1992 Dream Team — the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team featuring those two, Stockton and some guys named Jordan, Magic and Bird — has been nominated for 2010 induction.
The late North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano, junior-college coaching legend Gene Bess and spunky 5-foot-3 guard Muggsy Bogues are up for consideration as well.
The Jazz didn't nominate any other players or personnel, but a former member of the organization might become a Hall of Famer. Mark Jackson is among the now-eligible first-time nominees.
The point guard was best-known for stints with the Knicks and Pacers, but he also played for Utah and a total of seven NBA clubs in his 17-year career. With the Jazz in 2002-03, Jackson averaged 4.7 points and 4.6 assists as a backup in Stockton's last year. He is second to Stockton on the NBA's all-time assists list.
The Hall of Fame received a reported 164 nominations for 2009's illustrious class, but Zeysing said the list of nominees is "confidential."
It is known, though, that Chris Mullin, Dennis Johnson, Maurice Lucas and Bernard King are among the previously nominated big-name players who've yet to receive an enshrinement invitation.
The Hall of Fame currently honors 290 people and six teams, and will likely eclipse the 300 mark in 2010.47 comments on this story
"For some people, being on the ballot is an honor in and of itself," Zeysing said. "When you think about how many people have played basketball, that 300 is probably a sliver of a percentage."
After all nominations are turned in this month, four screening committees — North American, Women, Veterans and International — will whittle down the field and announce up to 16 finalists during the NBA All-Star Game festivities in February. After further screening and voting, the Class of 2010 will be revealed during the NCAA men's Final Four in April.
Malone is poised to become the seventh Jazzman in the Hall of Fame. Others include: Sloan, Stockton, Adrian Dantley, Pete Maravich, Walt Bellamy and Gail Goodrich.