Karl Malone grew up in the country and played at the relatively at small Louisiana Tech before the Jazz drafted him with the 13th pick in 1985, so he was a little wet behind the ears at that point.
His first visit to Utah coincided with the state’s Pioneer Day celebration and he accepted then-coach Frank Layden’s invitation to ride on the team’s float in the Days of ’47 parade.
Initially, Layden told Malone the parade was being held because of his 22nd birthday.
“That’s no urban legend,” Malone said. “That’s the truth. … I was waving like a [beauty] pageant queen. If there were cellphones back then, I would have called my mom and said, ‘You won’t believe it. All of Utah is here for me.’ ”
When the parade ended, Malone told Layden it was “amazing” so many people helped him celebrate his birthday. His new coach laughed and said, “I can’t believe you fell for that one.”
I hope Malone at least enjoyed that parade, because the Jazz certainly didn’t throw him another one to celebrate a championship (zing!).
Above all, I’m just glad Malone is working with the Jazz again, because it means we get stories like this. Read the rest of Luhm’s article to learn what Malone buying a mule means, why Derrick Favors rates as just a ‘9’ on Malone’s scale and how Malone feels about the state of Utah.