Buck Harvey: As Malone leaves, so does a Spurs fear
Web Posted: 02/12/2005 12:00 AM CST
San Antonio Express-News
Gregg Popovich was honest with Karl Malone last week, and maybe that honesty is why Malone decided to retire.
Come off the bench? Behind Rasho?
Maybe, to Malone, that would have been far more insulting than anything Vanessa Bryant could ever say about him.
But Popovich couldn't have been completely honest. If he had told Malone the calculating truth, then Popovich would have had to tell Malone that the Spurs wanted him to play for them — and they really, really didn't want to see him in June, standing next to Shaquille O'Neal, ready to do harm to Tim Duncan again.
So when the word came Friday that Malone won't play for anyone ever again?
If the Spurs are honest today, they can think of worse news.
Malone's retirement ends one of the game's great careers, and it coincides with Reggie Miller's own exit announcement. Both will finish without rings — assuming the Pacers don't shock — yet neither will be tarnished much by that.
Malone still had enough left to make the Spurs better, but there were no guarantees. His knee has healed, but it's still 42 years old. His pride would have struggled at times as a role player. And the reception from some quarters in San Antonio would have been a distraction.
Kevin Willis, Steve Smith and Danny Ferry got their rings with considerable sentiment. Malone would have gotten his with considerable resentment.
But there was reason to gamble on Malone, and the Heat knew that as well as the Spurs did. The Miami franchise wanted Malone, too, and also was just as confused by Malone.
Pat Riley tried to talk to Malone this season and could never get through. Who knew Popovich had that much cache? Malone traveled to San Antonio to meet with Popovich, but Malone didn't return a call to a Hall of Fame coach.
San Antonio was the only place Malone considered, and it's not clear why. The Heat, after all, offered a starting position next to a former teammate, Shaq, whereas Malone has never played with any of the Spurs.
Why didn't Malone consider playing with a 340-pound center who had complemented his game just last season? Riley says the two players talked at times this season, and that they have a good relationship.
Perhaps the choice was personal. Miami is a long way from L.A., where Malone's family is.
Still, there isn't much left of the season, and travel would have negated much family time anyway. Malone would also have found less adversity in Miami, a city without a contentious history with him, as well as management that wanted him as much as the Spurs did.
"If Karl calls me, I'll fly to Arkansas and ride horses with him on his ranch," Riley joked Thursday. "I have so much respect for him and his game."
And what would Riley have told Malone from atop a horse?
"I'd tell him, 'I want you to come help us win, and we'll help you set the scoring record.'"
Both might have happened in Miami. Slotted into a slower halfcourt game — playing off of Shaq — Malone would have gotten more shots than he would have had in San Antonio.
Malone and the Heat could have won a title together, too. Miami is the best team in the Eastern Conference, and Malone would have given the Heat another weapon against the West.
The Spurs know all about that. Malone has both the muscle and the intelligence to bother Duncan, and Malone did that last spring.
And when Duncan pried himself free of Malone? There was Shaq.
The Spurs aren't so far ahead of the league that they are game-planning for the Finals. But they had to think that adding Malone was no more significant than subtracting him from another franchise.
After the Timberwolves fell apart, Miami became that team.
So Sunday is a fitting moment. About the time Malone is expected to hold a news conference to announce his retirement, the Spurs will play the Heat with something already decided.
The Spurs lost out on a player. And still won.
A writer from Salt Lake said yesterday that Malone would never want to play as a bench player or role player. Personally, I always believed this was why Malone did not come the year before. The Spurs would have taken both Malone and Rasho the previous season and there was no guarantee of Malone starting then either. Of course, Buck took his usual opportunity to get a little dig in on Rasho there, but that is no surprise.
His last few articles sound to me like he's been hanging out in this forum.
Just wonder who it is?
Is our defense that good? I think so. And the scary part is that the whole team seems to take a sadistic pride in shutting people down. What is Pop feeding them? They looked brainwashed out there, a single minded machine that just eats up their opponents. -----pjrfan
You know why Malone did not want to play with Shaq ? It is because he did not want to be part of a drama yet again. Shaq would not have been able to resist needling Kobe and Lakers and the acrimony would have started all over again.
If there is one team that is least likely to get involved in drama, it is the Spurs.
Malone has said in the past (after yet another year of Tim Duncan smothering his Jazz), he has often wondered what it would be like to play WITH Tim Duncan than against him.
I think what he regrets the most perhaps is choosing Lakers over Spurs last season. He was THIS close to signing with the Spurs. David Robinson called him and pleaded with him to join San Antonio. He was this close to caving in. The only reason he did not was SA was a great team, defending champions already and he wanted to visibly be the difference maker on a championship team.
As it turns out, neither the roster overhauled Spurs, nor the ego dominated Lakers were quite good enough for a Championship. Yet again Malone was left empty handed.
Perhaps he is finally believing what I have suspected for some time.
He is not destined to win a ring.
It is Karma.
Accept it and move on.
I'm not impressed by his article.
The Spurs tried to get Malone and it didn't work. That's it. Nothing gained. Nothing lost.
Focus on the Championship.
I don't see any need for putting a spin on this that comes out the other end as
though the Spurs came out ahead so that all who follow the Spurs are consoled somehow.
Buck Harvey article generally has a Bill Waltonesque melodramatic spin on it. This is no exception.Two bits of real news and rest just supposition, speculation, his take on the hard truth (not always accurate) heavily laced with rah-rah Glory to the Spurs cheerleading.
Last edited by Assassin; 02-12-05 at 12:40 PM.
Lets call it a season with these holes. if we dont make a trade by the deadline our year is over. i guess no one appreciates malik rose and in the past our backup bigs were like this and we won 2 titles. but if we dont make a trade SR fans will be right our year is done finished.why even go to the playoffs with these "holes".
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