Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Utah Jazz Notes
Jazz Reporters
Aaron Falk, Tony Jones and Steve Luhm cover the Utah Jazz and the NBA for The Salt Lake Tribune. The Tribune on Twitter - Aaron Falk: @tribjazz, Steve Luhm: @sluhm, Tony Jones: @Tjonessltrib

» Jazz section

» E-mail Aaron Falk

» E-mail Steve Luhm

» E-mail Tony Jones

» Subscribe (RSS)

Isiah Thomas calls Karl Malone 'weak link' of Jazz heyday

In the world of talk show TV, Isiah Thomas is gold. And folks who make talk show TV know when they have somethign that is going to go bonkers in the ratings — which is why NBA TV is zealously promoting a clip this afternoon in which former Thomas rips Karl Malone as the "weak link" of the Jazz teams that reached back-to-back NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998.

The entire basis of Thomas' argument isthat Malone was not a good free throw shooter, particularly late in games, costing the Jazz at least one of the two championship that ultimately went to the Bulls. Thomas is not wrong in that Malone missed some inopportune free throws over the course of his career. But the term "weak link" is what sticks out, and is why it is the clip NBA TV is distributing to promote the Oct. 8 premiere of "Open Court."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Thomas' dissertation ignores the fact that Malone spent his career making himself a reliable free throw shooter. As a rookie in 1985-86, Malone made just 48.1 percent of his free throws, but shot under 70 percent only twice more in his career and retired in 2004 as a career 74.2 percent shooter.

In the 1996-97 Finals, Malone shot just 35 of 58 from the free throw line, a paltry 60 percent. The next year he hit 78.9 percent of his foul shots in the six-game series.

Malone, whose career achievements include two MVPs and diamond cutting Dennis Rodman in a televised WWE match, is back in the mix with the Jazz. This summer he worked with both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter and this week has been at training camp coaching big men.

Thomas starts off innocently enough, praising the Jazz of the '90s.

"I thought they had everything that it took to win a championship," Thomas begins during the roundtable discussion. "I thought they had the system, I thought they had the players, the tougness, the defensive-minded and everything. But I always felt like Malone was the weak link, because he wasn't a good foul shooter. Had he been a good foul shooter, they would have beat Chicago."

"They would have beat us one year," former Houston Rocket Kenny Smith says.

"I think they would have beat you," Thomas continues.

At this point, studio nice guy Ernie Johnson — bless his heart — interjects to ask, "And weak link is the term you want to use there? Or his inability to hit free throws."

Unfazed, Thomas resumes.

"That's a weak link," he says, "because at the end of the games, when you're playing at that level you come down to the las 30 seoconds or the last minute of the game, if that guy can't make foul shots, then he's the weak link. He's the guy tha tyou're fouling, he's the guy that you want to put on the line. You're not fouling Stockton. You're not putting him on the line, you're not letting him take the shot. you're going to Malone. I thought Malone's inability to make free throws was what stopped them from winning the championship."

Thomas, by the way, was a career 75.9 foul shooter.

— Bill Oram

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.

Latest Jazz Photo Galleries
Latest Jazz Photo Galleries
Latest Jazz Photo Galleries
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.