Karl Malone dominated for almost two decades as the NBA’s preeminent power forward. A nearly-lifelong member of the Utah Jazz, he formed an unstoppable duo with John Stockton. While the Hall of Fame tandem couldn’t topple Michael Jordan, Malone and Stockton managed to make quite a bit of money trying to bring down the Chicago Bulls. Yet, despite massive career earnings, The Mailman thought one weekly bill was simply too much to take on.
Karl Malone was a star for the Utah Jazz
Tipping the scales at 6-foot-9, 250 pounds, Karl Malone had the perfect frame for an NBA power forward. With broad shoulders and bulging biceps, he bullied his way in the paint. The 13th overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft played more games than every other player from his draft class, including Charles Oakley and Patrick Ewing.
As one of the NBA’s most durable players, Malone racked up prolific scoring stats. By his third season with the Jazz, he averaged 27.7 points. An imposing physical presence on the boards, Malone averaged a double-double for nine consecutive seasons beginning in 1986-87.
The Mailman captured two NBA MVP awards in his 19-year career. He also earned 14 All-Star selections and three All-Defensive first-team honors. By the time Malone wrapped up his storied career, he ranked second on the all-time points list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
NBA Hall of Famer made more than $100 million
Though he never won an NBA title, Karl Malone accomplished almost everything else possible. His prolific scoring ability earned him a spot in the NBA Hall of Fame in 2010. By the same token, his penchant for putting the ball in the basket also made him a rich man. According to Spotrac, the Jazz legend made just north of $104 million. While that outranks Jordan, even Scottie Pippen made more money during his playing days than The Mailman.
Strangely, Malone didn’t really break the bank until much later in his career. In fact, he made less than $3 million in each of his first six seasons in Utah. Although he ranked as one of the top players in the NBA, Malone only topped the $10 million mark in his final four years with the Jazz. His highest salary came in 2002-03 when he earned $19.25 million. Malone made just $1.5 million in his lone year with the Lakers before retiring after the ’03-04 season.
Malone said $125 was too much to pay for child support
Though he may have been an NBA star with a massive bank account, Karl Malone didn’t have a squeaky clean image off the court. According to ESPN, Malone impregnated a 13-year-old girl when she was a sophomore at Louisiana Tech University. She gave birth to Demetress Bell, who later became a seventh-round NFL draft pick.
Despite his immense wealth, Malone didn’t step up to help Bell’s grandparents when they asked for financial support. And based on the ESPN report, they certainly didn’t ask for an unreasonable amount.
The Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune reported that when Bell’s grandparents initially took Malone to court for paternity in 1986, his second year with the Jazz, they requested Malone pay $200 a week. Malone didn’t respond to the suit, but a Louisiana judge ruled he was Bell’s father — after a paternity test showed that was indeed accurate — and ordered Malone to pay $125 a week, plus past and future medical expenses. Malone claimed that was too much and later reached a confidential out-of-court settlement with Bell’s family between 1988 and 1989.
Ultimately, a man who made $104 million for playing basketball deemed a $125 weekly child support bill to be too much. Fortunately for Bell, he managed to stick around the NFL long enough to earn $5.7 million in five seasons, according to Spotrac. He last played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012.