What's this? King of Flex, complaining about being mugged? After losing to Orlando last Thursday night, even the physical Karl Malone was wondering if he'd been in the ring with Hulk Hogan, not on the court with Greg Kite.

Anyone who has watched the Jazz for long knows what Malone has to deal with every game. One night it's San Antonio's David Greenwood pawing on him. The next night, Houston's Otis Thorpe. Then maybe Philadelphia's Rick Mahorn.But Thursday in Orlando, after wrestling with Kite and Terry Catledge all night, Malone seemed to think the game had reached an alltime low. He appeared to take particular exception to Kite. Though he didn't name names, he made obvious references to Kite, who isn't known for much other than his enforcement in the middle.

"That's how some of them stay in the league," said Malone. "That's their job. Some of 'em can't play, so that's all they do, as far as I'm concerned."

Malone didn't stop there. Asked by an Orlando reporter if he felt like a target, Malone continued, "Oh yeah. Like I say, that's how some of them stay in the league. That's all they do - hold, grab, foul. If that works for some teams to have those guys on their team, that's good.

"But hey, it keeps them in the league and feeds their kids at home."

As an addendum, Malone added, "It's not basketball, it's WWF (World Wrestling Federation) - which I like." When reporters laughed, he said, "Funny, huh? It really is, sometimes."


PASS THE GERITOL: Much has been made of the Celtics' aging front court and their new up-tempo attack.

Apparently the Celtics are taking it all in good humor. Asked about keeping up with the pace, center Robert Parrish joked, "To half-court, yes. After half-court, no."


FOUR-STAR RATING: In a recent edition of Orlando's Magic Magazine, several players were asked about their favorite movies of the summer. Die Hard II was mentioned, and two players said their favorite was Ghost.

The most original selection, though, had to come from Kite, a father of four. "I don't get to the movies much, and when I do, it's for the kids," said Kite. "Taking that into consideration, I'd have to say Jungle Book.

Too bad he's so busy. He might also have enjoyed The Jetsons.


THE MAIL TRUCK: Malone's feelings could be different about Kite, had things worked out the way they could have last summer.

Kite, in his eighth year in the NBA, was a free agent before signing a one-year, $500,000 contract with the Magic. Orlando has been Kite's off-season home for several years.

But Kite considered an offer from the Utah Jazz last summer. Had the offer been as substantial as Orlando's, Kite says he could have been a Jazzman.

"If the Utah offer had been closer," said Kite, "I would have signed with them. If it had been equal to what Orlando was offering, I may well have opted for (playing in) Utah."


STUTTER-START: If it seems like a long time since the Jazz won a game, it has been. For the record, here are a few numbers to consider:

- In Boston, Utah is now 1-22 . Actually, even that is stretching things. Utah's only win at Boston was a March, 1976 win at Hartford, Conn.

- Utah's 2-5 start is the Jazz's worst since going 2-5 to start the 1982-83 season. That year the Jazz finished 30-52.

- The Jazz were 6-1 after seven games last year.

- The last time the Jazz were three games under .500 was on Jan. 30, 1988 when they were 20-23.

- The last time the Jazz lost four in a row was in December, 1988.

- Last time the Jazz lost four straight road games was last season, when they got beat by Golden State, Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle and Phoenix. Last season the Jazz also lost three road games on two occasions.