RUSTON, La. Karl Malone was taught by his mother to be the type of person who, if you have success, to give back.
Malone is doing just that at his alma mater Louisiana Tech University, and at the same time he is helping his longtime friend and first-year Tech basketball coach Kerry Rupp.
"He feels like Louisiana Tech has given something to him, and also the game of basketball has been very, very good to him," Rupp said.
So when Rupp was hired by Louisiana Tech, he approached Malone for his help, and Malone obliged.
"It really wasn't hard. He wanted to give back to basketball and the university and to the community," Rupp said.
Malone, who donated $350,000 to athletic facilities at LTU, is also working as the director of basketball promotion and assistant strength and conditioning coach.
The new floor at the Thomas Assembly Center now bears his name Karl Malone Court.
"When I think they asked him for his advice and for him to give him some input in regards to the direction that basketball wanted to go, I think that was beneficial for me because it was a chance for me to have a great opportunity to come here for my first head coaching job," Rupp said.
Rupp and Malone first crossed paths nearly 25 years ago in Salt Lake City when Rupp was a high school basketball coach.
"I actually first met him when he got into town and he was running on the track behind me at East High," Rupp said. "We used to come in in the mornings and work out and lift and condition and do some individual stuff."
While Malone was blossoming with the Utah Jazz in the NBA, Rupp was moving up the coaching ladder, going from East High to the University of Utah as an assistant for Rick Majerus. At the same time Rupp was the co-executive director of the Karl Malone Foundation for Kids.
Malone wasn't in attendance at the Bulldogs' 71-61 loss to Utah State Thursday night.
"To have Karl on board at this makes it a special opportunity. I've traveled the world with him and done clinics in Asia and Europe when he was the spokesman for Sprite and Coke," Rupp said. "The great thing about Karl and those 22 years is we have fostered a great friendship and respect for one another."Louisiana Tech is 3-14 and 0-5 in Western Athletic Conference play, and the Bulldogs haven't won since beating McNeese State, 73-63, on Dec. 29.
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