Karl Malone – you are the weakest link (Anne Robinson voice).
Isiah Thomas joins the new Open Court crew and in this preview clip of the upcoming premier episode of season 3 of the NBATV show, Zeke calls out another member of the Dream Team that didn’t want to share a gold with him back in the Detroit Bad Boy days.
Thomas was complimenting the Utah Jazz of the mid to late 90s and called the 1997 & 1999 MVP Karl Malone the “weakest link” because of his foul shooting. Kenny Smith seemed to agree that the Mailman’s inability to make free throws is what cost them the championship against the Bulls and his Houston Rockets.
“I thought Utah, going back to that team, I thought they had everything it took to win a championship,” he said. “They had the system, the players, the toughness, they were defensive-minded and everything. I always thought like Malone was the weakest link because he wasn’t a good foul shooter. Had he been a good foul shooter they would have beat Chicago.”
The free throws were a huge story in the 97 playoffs against Mike and the Bulls especially in games 5 (5-9 ft) and 6 (7-15 ft) but in next year’s finals the issue wasn’t making free throws but attempting them as he rarely made it to the line (averaged less than 5 free throw attempts a game).
I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just memories of Malone missing free throws that caused him to rip into the Dream Teamer. Those 40 stitches from 1991 are probably still fresh in his head when he thinks about Karl Malone.