Karl Malone blasted Jazz management - and owner Larry H. Miller in particular - during training camp in October for being too eager to push he and the team's other veterans out the door. Malone also blasted some of his "fat (expletive)" teammates - and Greg Ostertag in particular - at that time.
The day training camp was completed, the Mailman called a press conference at his home to try to smooth things over. Malone and Miller cleared the air with each other in a one-on-one meeting as well.It was all water under the bridge, or so it seemed.
The Jazz - and Malone in particular - are now on a roll. They've won 10 straight and 17 of 18 and Malone has been brilliant. Team chemistry is at a season high.
Or at least it was before Malone started opening up old wounds each time a national television network interviews him.
In pieces on both ESPN and NBC on Sunday, Malone told the world once again how Miller and Ostertag have ticked him off this year. He's mad at Ostertag for getting a big contract and then not getting in shape. He's mad at Miller for giving Ostertag a big contract and for talking about the future (read: post Malone/Stockton era) too much.
Malone may have some valid complaints. But, to paraphrase Jerry Sloan talking about a separate incident this season, there's no reason the world needs to see the Jazz's underwear.
Malone's timing seems to be particularly harsh, since Ostertag is about to be reactivated after sitting out for a month with an injury.
The Jazz have been just fine without Ostertag. They've gone 15-1 in his absence. It would have been difficult enough for the team's only 7-footer to mix back in at this point of the season under any circumstances.
Having his star teammate take shots at him repeatedly in the national press certainly won't help make it any easier.
LOOKING BACK: The Jazz turned in yet another perfect week. Three straight home wins were followed by an 11-point victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday to open the final extended road trip of the season.
The undermanned Houston Rockets gave the Jazz the biggest scare last week. With 38-year-old Eddie Johnson going nuts to the tune of 37 points, the Rockets kept it close on Monday night - with key contributors Hakeem Olajuwon, Mario Elie and Kevin Willis out with suspensions for fighting. Malone scored 29 with a season-high 21 rebounds to turn back the Rockets.
Sacramento offered little resistance on Wednesday night. Vancouver was more of a challenge on Friday in the Delta Center, but Malone scored 14 points in a 31/2 minute span of the fourth quarter to put the Grizzlies away. Jeff Hornacek, whose streak of 299 straight games ended when he sat out with a sore knee against the Kings and Grizzlies, came back with a vengeance, scoring 22 points - 18 in the second half - against the Pistons.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Jazz have a full week with four games - all on the road. They open tonight against the Timberwolves, who are fighting with the Rockets to be the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Point guard Stephon Marbury scored 38 points and helped the Wolves recover from a 21-point deficit to force overtime in the previous meeting with the Jazz this year. Utah still managed to win.
Charlotte's 10-game winning streak came to a close Saturday. Still, the Hornets figure to be the toughest opponent on the trip. Glen Rice leads a list of six players who average double figures. Utah has beaten Philadelphia, Friday's opponent, four straight times. The Jazz have needed overtime the last two times, however, including this year in the Delta Center.
Utah will finish the trip in Madison Square Garden Sunday night with a game against the Knicks. The Jazz won easily in the Delta Center last month when the teams met, but New York is a much better team on its famous homecourt.
Projected record for the week: 2-2, which would give the Jazz a 49-18 record for the year.
QUOTEWORTHY: Houston's Charles Barkley, when asked whether he would rather play the Jazz or the Sonics in the first round of the playoffs: "That's like asking a guy on death row if he wants the electric chair or lethal injection. It doesn't matter. You're still dead."
Monday, Mar. 16
Wednesday, Mar. 18
Friday, Mar. 20
Sunday, Mar. 22