NBA

What Happened to Utah Jazz Legend Karl Malone?

In the history of sports, certain nicknames speak for themselves. Dominik Hasek, for example, became ‘the Dominator’ thanks to his ability to deny even the most talented shooters. On the hardwood, Magic Johnson and Pistol Pete Maravich‘s nicknames have taken on a life of their own. Utah Jazz legend Karl Malone, however, had a much benign moniker: the Mailman.

While it might seem boring at first blush, Malone earned his nickname because he consistently delivered every time he took the floor. But where is the legendary forward these days?

Karl Malone’s road to the pros

These days, most NBA stars have filtered through a handful of major college programs. There’s always an exception to the rule, however. Karl Malone was one of those.

Malone enrolled at Louisiana Tech, staying close to home, but there was a problem: his grades. The forward was academically ineligible to play basketball as a freshman; once he hit the court the next season, though, he made up for lost time.

As a sophomore, Malone averaged 20.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game; while those numbers would slightly decrease with each passing season, the forward was already showing the consistency that made him famous. He helped Lousiana Tech make the NCAA Tournament for the first two times in program history, reaching the Sweet 16 during his final season.

The Mailman delivers for the Utah Jazz

On the back of his collegiate success, the Utah Jazz selected Karl Malone with the 13th pick of the 1985 NBA draft. It would turn out to be a steal.

The forward posted a respectable stat line—14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists—as a rookie, but only improved from there. Working alongside John Stockton in the pick and roll, Malone became a force. Living up to his famous nickname, he always managed to deliver; during his 19 NBA seasons, Malone averaged more than 20 points per game 17 times.

Despite his success with the Jazz, Malone was never able to get over the hump in the postseason. He decided to make one final run at the title with the Los Angeles Lakers; the team fell in the NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons, though, and the Mailman would call it a career.

Where is Karl Malone now?

When you’re an NBA legend like Karl Malone, it’s hard to escape basketball. The Mailman, however, has done just that.

While he briefly rejoined the Utah Jazz as a part-time coach and has an open invitation to pop into Lousiana Tech at his leisure, the former forward has different obligations these days. Living in Northern Louisiana, Malone spends his time hunting and working out; he also’s a local businessman, owning a cigar shop, a teriyaki restaurant, a clothing store, and an apartment complex with his daughter. The Mailman also owns several businesses in Utah, where he used to ply his trade on the hardwood. Most of all, however, he enjoys just being Karl.

“People here don’t look at him as Karl Malone, the basketball player,” Malone’s wife, Kay, explained in 2018. “It’s more like ‘Hey, Karl’ or ‘Hey, KJ’s dad or Kadee’s dad’ because a lot of these kids don’t even know he played basketball. They know him as a hunter. So, the kids here grew up hunting and mostly ask him about hunting.”