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Friday, July 11, 2003
Malone: 'I've never been a part of something like this'

ESPN.com news services

Karl Malone's decision to leave the Utah Jazz and join the Los Angeles Lakers -- at a serious pay cut -- could have major ramifications on next season's Western Conference race. Malone recently spoke with Jeremy Schaap on Outside The Lines about the move, which is expected to become official on Wednesday when NBA teams can start signing free agents.

Jeremy Schaap: What are your thoughts about leaving the Jazz for Los Angeles?

Karl Malone:: It was a very tough decision. It was a very emotional decision for, you know, me personally. I've always been a person that once you kind of get settled into a position or a comfort zone, you know that unknown is unbelievable.

After talking it over with my family and (in explaining) it to my kids and they said, "Dad, we want you to do what makes you happy because 10 years from now, we don't want you to look back and say we should of and we don't mind making the sacrifice for you for as long as you want to pursue what you want to do and we understand it." So that made it a little easier.

The tough part about it is leaving a lot of friends, leaving a lot of great fans and also leaving a damn good owner. It's like in any relationship -- if you've been around somebody long enough, you're going to have your disagreements at times but it still (doesn't) change ... what I think about him.

It was a tough decision, Jeremy, but in life you come to crossroads. What are you going to do about it?

Schaap: By making this decision, Karl, are you in fact saying it's more important to you to win a championship than to pass Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) for the all-time scoring record?

Malone: I don't get caught up in a lot of the personal records. If you hear what a lot of people say, of course that would be an unbelievable feat -- don't get me wrong. But sometimes we get so caught up, Jeremy, in personal goals.

Of course if I could have stayed in Utah, made more money, not get injured, hopefully breaking the scoring record -- oh yeah, that was great. But some things still burn and I've always said, you make decisions in life and sometimes they don't go as planned.

It (doesn't) say we're going to win a championship but I can look back and I'm a big boy and can say if it didn't work, it didn't work. But at least have an opportunity to do it, having an owner that understands, not only that thought -- (and) having someone who still wants me at age 40 years old.

Schaap: How good can this Lakers team be with you and Gary Payton?

Malone: I think first and foremost I'm coming into this situation as well as Gary realizing ... this is Kobe and Shaq's team. But if we can get on the same page -- which I don't see any problem -- it (doesn't) matter how many shots I get as long as we're winning.

I think if we can come together fairly quickly, I think it will be a fun team to watch, I think it's going to be an exciting team, and who knows ... like I said I've never been a part of something like this, the potential, so I can't tell you how good they -- we -- can be because we gotta go play. Every team now probably has marked us on their calendar .