Karl Malone once said he was a bad man on the court too, when talking about Michael Jordan.
And The Mailman was a heck of a player in his day, one of the best of the 90s. But was he better than perhaps his closest comparison today, The Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo? I asked our Ben Pickman and "The Fantasy Exec" Corey Parson for their takes.
Parson for Giannis: The Mailman definitely was dominant in his day. The scoring, not to mention his body, his physique, and the way he got up and down the court. He was a different type of player when he came into the NBA. But you look at Giannis and he's almost the same thing, a different type of cat. He's already got an MVP and he's working on a second one right now. He is currently the favorite to win the MVP this season. And his game gets better every single year. He's also won Most Improved Player, All Defensive team. To catch Karl Malone is going to be tough, but I think when you look at the body of work, when it's finished, especially if Giannis can add some championship hardware and gets that jump shot down, I think Giannis does become a better player than The Mailman was.
Pickman for Malone: I think it's a little early to say that Giannis will be better than Karl Malone. And I think one of the most impressive things on Malone's resume is that the Jazz made the playoffs in all of Malone's 19 seasons. Let's give The Mailman some credit on offense. He's the second leading scorer in NBA history. That's a pretty impressive feat. He does have those 11 All-NBA first team appearances and those two MVP awards, along with the Finals appearances, where, of course, the Jazz did lose to the Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan. But I think we have to give him some credit for the totality of his resume. I understand he's played those 19 years whereas Giannis is just getting started, relatively speaking. But I think Malone still is one of the great power forwards of all time. A little too early to say Giannis is up at his level.
Verdict: Saying it is too early to put Giannis above Malone is probably correct, especially when you look at the record books. But sometimes it does feel like Malone is slept on a little bit historically. People put Charles Barkley ahead of him very easily. And then there's the likability factor. Malone just isn't beloved, which may help Giannis in the end, particularly given the trajectory he is currently on.