Charley Rosen at FoxSports.com has ranked the best power forwards of all time. A few years ago, I polled dozens of NBA players on this very question, and the runaway winner was Karl Malone. Malone's behind Tim Duncan, Kevin McHale, and Bob Pettit on Rosen's list.
In the clutch, he'd miss free throws and take ill-advised shots. For example, instead of pounding his way into the lane from his customary station on the left box, Malone would spin baseline and uncork a low-percentage jumper.
And don't pay any attention to his being named three times to the NBA's All-Defensive Team (1997-99). In truth, he was strong enough to move any low-post player several feet from his favorite spot. But his lateral movement was always poor, meaning any opponent who could turn and face would always wind up with a clean look. Also, Malone's pet ploy was to swipe at the ball while his opponent was preparing to shoot. Sometimes Malone was successful, but more often than not, his gamble would be futile, and he would be left exposed and off balance, placing his teammates in jeopardy.
Malone was never anything more than a good player. John Stockton's crafty passes are responsible for turning Malone into a cinch Hall-of-Famer.
Despite all that, the ultimate insult in the list is to Charles Barkley, who doesn't make the list at all, except in a tag-on section called "Missing in Action."