Last week, the state of Utah welcomed the rest of the NBA universe to celebrate a special day in our history. Some call it Pioneer Day. But the rest call it Karl Malone day. This year became even more special as we ushered in his semicentennial: 50 years for "The Mailman."
I purposely waited to write this piece. There were several other worthwhile recaps and highlights of Malone's career. Many paid tribute and homage to his lofty career as one of, if not, the greatest power forward in history. I wanted to let those run their course. He deserved them after all.
But forget the 50-greatest-moments-type articles expected to circulate around the interwebs. I want to focus on one event, the one moment that stands out to me more than any of his 36,928 points — WCW.
Say what you will about his career, his work ethic or even his signature dunks, but if I had to choose one thing that best represents the self-proclaimed "Deliverer," it would be that warm summer night in San Diego, more than 15 years ago. The Bash on the Beach.
For those of you that need a brief history lesson, try this.
Has there ever been a greater multi-sport crossover? Sure Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders did the football/baseball thing. But when it comes to pure entertainment value, no one else comes close.
Malone was cut from a very different breed. How else would you explain the 18-wheeler, the fascination with hunting, the sponsorship with Hardees, the summers in Alaska or anything else for that matter?
It was the summer of 1998. The Jazz had just lost their second consecutive time in the NBA Finals to the Bulls. Malone and Dennis Rodman had been going at it on the court for six brutal games. Then the NBA went into a lockout, and players needed something to fill their time.
I suppose it’s only fitting that two players nicknamed "The Mailman” and the “Worm” should be the ones to do it. Although, apparently the “Worm” wasn’t good enough, because he chose to go by “Rodzilla” due to the recent blockbuster summer movie.
These two all-stars created another summer blockbuster of their own, teaming up with wrestling legends Hulk Hogan and Diamond Dallas Page for an unforgettable tag-team matchup. It was the type of stuff legends are made of.
When it came to brute strength, no doubt Malone was pound for pound the strongest of the four. But it quickly became apparent that he and Rodzilla weren’t up to the same level of showmanship.
It was like one of those bad made-for-TV movies you can’t stop watching no matter how many times you hover over the remote. Even so, there was a certain amount of right in their wrongness.
Their antics were cheap. Their emotions, forced. The crowd and announcers couldn’t get enough of it. I felt dumber just for having watched it (and yes, I ordered the pay-per-view). Sometimes, though, we all need a few moments where we can turn our brains off and simply enjoy ourselves.
Malone and DDP made for the perfect “good guys," while Rodman and Hogan created the perfect villains, with an attitude fans love to hate. In the end, their scheming nature proved victorious with a somewhat anticlimactic finish. The match was all but locked for Malone and his partner after a series of Diamond Cutters.
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Rather than give the spoiler alert, I’ll let the YouTube video explain the rest.
Let’s just say I’m glad Malone got into basketball rather than wrestling, glad that he chose the court and not the ring. Remember him for what you will, but I choose to remember WCW. None of you can see me right now, but if you could, you’d see that I’m holding up the Diamond Cutter.
All this got me to thinking, which current Jazz player would fans think could be the next wrestling crossover? Thoughts?