Okay, we need to begin by taking a moment to thank The Deseret News for locating former Utah Jazz great Karl Malone and asking him some questions. The rest, well, is all Malone evoking that image you may have of him post-NBA: Rural, flannel-wearing, cabin-living, sipping coffee from a tin mug while a plethora of squirrels and other assorted rodents are roasting over an open flame.
Or something like that. Anyway, do click through the entire interview, as none of Malone’s answers fail to entertain, but this one (via Slam), when asked about coaching with the Jazz, takes the cake, and offers a scenario that could provide countless opportunities for quotes like these in the future:
“Oh no, no. We done been there. You can’t beat the fart out of a dead mule. Let’s pass on that. They ain’t gonna call. I think Coach Sloan will coach again in the NBA. Absolutely…I would love to [be an assistant coach], with Coach Sloan.”
Seriously, could anyone but Malone make that mule metaphor even remotely understandable? The fact that it came from the Mailman at least lends it some validity — proof enough that it probably has, somewhere in the universe, been used before. Otherwise, the imagery of the line only muddles its point; And actually, it takes on a life of its own and completely distracts from any statement that it’s trying to help reinforce. A real mind-bender, to be sure — as evidenced by this paragraph — yet utterly fantastic.
The actual basketball-related item from this story is two-fold: One, the idea of Jerry Sloan returning to an NBA coaching bench, and two, Karl Malone sitting next to him on said hypothetical bench. While it wouldn’t be shocking to see Sloan back on the sidelines someday, this scenario seems like a shot in the dark. For a moment however, let’s try to speculate on where this former player and coach would be best suited.
Both are proud winners who have never reached the peak of winning an NBA championship, so it would seem unlikely that Sloan in particular would return for anything less than an ideal, postseason-ready team and situation. The Knicks are a ways away from playing with a full deck, but with their foundation-in-progress of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire and coach Mike D’Antoni on the constant hot seat nowadays, it could be a somewhat attractive option that’s available.
But if Sloan, and by hypothetical extension Malone, were to consider a rebuilding project would there be a better fit, both in terms of necessity and comedy, than the Washington Wizards? In Sloan the Wizards would get a no-nonsense coach armed with time-tested systems for both ends of the floor to implement some structure and discipline on a team that’s terrible in just about every way. One would imagine that if Sloan couldn’t turn this squad into something respectable, then maybe it really isn’t possible.
And as for us, the NBA viewing public? If Sloan were to take this job reeking with bad parts and chemistry, would he bring Malone along for the ride with him? If so, we would be treated to Malone’s nightly struggles with a young immature team’s growing process, and most importantly, whatever backwoods musings he’d have to describe them. It would be a glorious scenario only the NBA could offer. Well, for you and me at least.
Malone is seemingly down for it, so long as Sloan is on board. I have no idea what Jerry Sloan is doing right now, other than probably enjoying the rest compared to flying all over the country in this streamlined NBA season, but if he heard this quote out there one would hope it’d at least make the thought creep into his mind. His pairing with Malone on the bench could be a great civil service to the NBA community, no matter where they ended up (but I’d pull for Washington).
Griffin Gotta contributes to The Hoop Doctors and is a co-managing editor of Straight Outta Vancouver. The story arcs and infinite weirdness of the NBA are addictions he deals with every day. Email him at griffingotta at gmail dot com.