Please seat him in hell
The Karl Malone sweepstakes has to be the least interesting story in the history of this year's NBA. This isn't Jordan's comeback, or even Barkley's flirtations with weight loss/Wizardry. It's Malone, who hasn't been worth paying attention to since the mid-nineties, can't bring much but consistent mediocrity to a contendor, and hardly inflames the passions of league-watchers everywhere. It would be only to fitting for him to be flushed away to the Spurs, where all drab vets go to die (notable exception: RIP Brent Barry!); why this has been in the headlines since the beginning of the season in beyond all me. He doesn't even have a short at KAJ's scoring record anymore. . . he's not likable enough that I want to see him grab a title in the waning hours of his career. . . why isn't Payton, still far more useful, clearly up for grabs, and a hell of a lot more compelling a personality than Malone, the big stretch-run question?
I really truly fear that Malone can harm basketball as I know and love it. If he does end up on the Spurs, won't he furrow his brow when Manu or Parker does something rash and zany? At least the triangle forces everyone to have a role. . . imagine a Shaq/Wade combo with a washed-up PF standing between them (and the beginning of the "Free Udonis! site). I don't doubt that he's still a competent, professional piece, much moreso than he should be. That's what makes this post questionable. But that's exactly wherein the devil lies: Malone is just good enough to force whoever signs him to incorporate him into the offense, when the world would be a better place if he were crowned the land's most famous role player.
It says something about the degradation (EARLY EVENING EDIT: EVOLUTION OF THE PF POSITION) of the PF position that Malone's still a viable commodity. They're either all forced to be under-sized centers (or, in the case of Duncan and Jermaine O'Neal, won't admit that they're centers), have decided they're SF's, or play the 4 by unskilled default. Is there anyone, other than Elton Brand or K-Mart, who's a classic, hard-nosed PF worth betting on? Randolph is lazy and nuts, Boozer was a figment of LeBron, Gasol's not quite violent enough, Reef has an imaginary roster spot on an imaginary team. . . and that's the first tier!
If only the NBA could either get their positions straight or abolish positions once and for all, there would be no place for the Mailman. And I, for one, would never be the sadder for it.