Chicago Bulls: Karl Malone

Malone: 'I never had any issue with Isiah'

June, 13, 2012
6/13/12
3:28
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
Isiah Thomas and Michael JordanNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesIsiah Thomas and Michael Jordan were fierce rivals on the basketball court.
On the 20th anniversary of the Dream Team, a documentary has re-ignited the debate over Isiah Thomas' exclusion from the roster.

“The Dream Team,” which airs on NBA TV on Wednesday, reportedly shows that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, among others, did not want to play alongside Thomas.

Karl Malone, who made the team alongside his Utah teammate John Stockton, said on ESPN 1000’s “Waddle and Silvy Show” Wednesday that he didn’t give any input on the roster choices.

“First of all guys, you know, it wasn’t my job to pick the team. OK,” Malone said. “It didn’t matter who was out there, they are part of our team. I didn’t have that kind of [influence] and I would like to think that nobody else did. There were a lot of great athletes left off that team.”

One of the NBA’s best all-time point guards, Thomas led the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” to two NBA titles in 1989 and 1990. When Jordan and the Bulls defeated the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, Thomas walked off the court with time remaining, failing to congratulate the winners in part of a feud that seemingly continues to this day.

When the 1992 Olympic Team, which for the first time could include NBA players, was built, Magic Johnson and Stockton were the point guards chosen by USA Basketball, leading to rumors that Jordan had “blackballed” Thomas from the team. Even when Stockton injured his leg in a pre-Olympic tournament, USA Basketball stuck with him instead of adding Thomas or another point guard.

“John Stockton got hurt and I tell you straight up, right off the bat, just because a guy got hurt he should not be replaced on an Olympic Team,” Malone said. “Unless it’s going to cost you a potential medal, gold medal, whatever, I just don’t agree with that. It could have been anybody.

“I never had any issue with Isiah. I think guys realized that it didn’t matter who was on the team. I know I could have cared less. It didn’t matter to me who was on that team. I was a part of something great.”

The Dream Team rolled to the gold medal, defeating their eight opponents by an average of 44 points, capped by a win over Croatia in the title game. Pistons coach Chuck Daly coached the squad.

MJ not Malone's pick for all-time best

June, 13, 2012
6/13/12
2:12
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
Michael Jordan may be widely considered the NBA’s all-time greatest player, but he’s not the pick of one of his former “Dream Team” Olympic teammates.

Karl Malone told the Waddle and Silvy show Wednesday on ESPN 1000 that his No. 1 is a legendary big man.

[+] EnlargeMichael Jordan and Karl Malone
US PresswireMichael Jordan and Karl Malone helped the Dream Team to Olympic gold in 1992.
“I’m a big guy. I’d be hard-pressed to not give a big guy the nod,” Malone said. “I’d have to say Wilt Chamberlain was my all-time greatest ever player.”

Malone, who certainly knows Jordan’s capabilities, winning a gold medal with him in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and losing two NBA Finals against him in 1997 and 1998, acknowledges there is room for debate.

“[Jordan is] the greatest that ever played at his position, OK, that’s what I’m going to tell you,” Malone told Waddle and Silvy. “You’ve got some Oscar Robertsons and you’ve got some Kareem Abdul-Jabbars and some Magics and all that. So you can debate [the best ever]. But as far as I’m concerned, he’s the best to play at his position. And we can all argue, ‘Well he’s the best of all time.’ I don’t know. I don’t know if he was the best of all time. If he wasn’t the best -- if he was not the best -- put him at the second best. But he was right up there.

“And you could argue he was the best. He got six rings so yeah, he could be the best. But I will say this, boy did he have an unbelievable supporting cast.”

Scottie Pippen played alongside Jordan on all six Chicago Bulls championship teams, which featured two sets of strong complementary players including Horace Grant, John Paxson and Dennis Rodman.

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OTHER LEADERS
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