Utah Jazz: Karl Malone's surprise Hall of Fame presenter pick

Published: Friday, July 23 2010 11:00 p.m. MDT

Karl Malone talks in an interview about his upcoming induction into the NBA Hall of Fame next month and his basketball career. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Karl Malone talks in an interview about his upcoming induction into the NBA Hall of Fame next month and his basketball career. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

DRAPER — You can bet John Stockton and Jerry Sloan will be at the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony next month when Karl Malone and the original Dream Team are among the inductees.

Surprisingly, though, neither of them will be presenting The Mailman on his big night.

Per Malone's request, that honor has been bestowed upon a fellow Louisiana legend.

"Willis Reed is presenting me at the Hall of Fame, which I think is pretty cool," Malone said Friday night while visiting with Utah media at his auto dealership.

Though many people thought either Stockton or Sloan would be chosen as his presenter — a privilege only current Hall of Famers are allowed to do — Malone went back to his youth to make the selection.

Reed, who's 21 years older than the 47-year-old birthday boy Malone, grew up in the town of Bernice, La. The former Jazz great and two-time NBA MVP grew up in nearby Summerfield, only five miles away, and deeply admired Reed, who had an injury-shortened but star-studded NBA career with the New York Knicks.

Reed was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1982, about the time Malone was beginning his college career at Louisiana Tech.

Malone fondly called the 1970 NBA MVP and seven-time All-Star "old school," which he considers a great compliment.

"I've always respected him," Malone said.

Reed was surprised when he got the phone call and invitation from his fellow Bayou State basketball standout.

"When I asked him, there was a pause and he was like, 'Who, me?' " Malone said with a chuckle. "He said, 'Ah, no, by that time you'll have somebody else.' I said, 'No sir, I won't.' "

Having Reed do the honors makes Malone all the more "excited" to join Sloan and Stockton in the Springfield hoops haven.

"(Reed) grew up five miles from me, and he just played hard," Malone said. "I think it's going to be awesome."

Last year, both Jazz Hall of Fame entrants had surprising selections as presenters. Stockton was presented by Isiah Thomas, while Sloan was accompanied by Charles Barkley.

The Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony will take place on Friday, Aug. 13, in the birthplace of basketball in Massachusetts. The Class of 2010 also includes Scottie Pippen, Jerry Buss, Cynthia Cooper, Bob Hurley Sr., the 1960 and '92 U.S. men's Olympic teams and posthumous honorees Dennis Johnson, Gus Johnson and Maciel "Ubiratan" Pereira.

This will be the third year in a row the Jazz have had an inductee. Adrian Dantley preceded Stockton and Sloan in being enshrined in 2008.

Mailman fans invited

Karl Malone fans will get a chance today to wish The Mailman a happy birthday and congratulate him on his upcoming Hall of Fame induction.

The public is invited to celebrate the ex-Jazz great on his own "Day of 47" at the Karl Malone Toyota auto dealership (11453 S. Lone Peak Parkway) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The party will include free hot dogs, hamburgers, snow cones, cotton candy, music, a dunk tank, a bounce house and games. Malone's Sports Museum will also be open.

Donations received will benefit Primary Children's Medical Center and Shriners Hospital.

e-mail: jody@desnews.com

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