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Malone clarifies his gripes

Karl Malone had said his new dream home was to be off limits to the news media. But after a couple of days of having some of his comments become a prime topic for newspapers, television and sports talk radio, he reconsidered.

Malone, the reigning NBA MVP, invited a select group of media into his palatial Salt Lake home Wednesday night. He did so in order to clarify his position on several matters prior to the Utah Jazz exhibition opener Saturday night."I just want to clear the air before the season starts," he said.

Here's a thumbnail sketch of what Malone covered:

- He has two years left on his contract with the Jazz and is not demanding that it be renegotiated. "I'm happy with what I've got," he said. "After two years, who knows what will happen . . . This isn't about a new contract. We're fine financially."

- He is still upset that certain teammates came to training camp out of shape - although he is proud of center Greg Ostertag for at least admitting publicly that he didn't return as fit as he should have. "I expect a lot out of myself, and I expect a lot out of my teammates," he said. Coming on the heels of an NBA Finals appearance, he expected his teammates to be in shape - and several weren't.

- He still feels Jazz management hasn't shown him the respect he deserves. He is upset about a quote attributed to Jazz owner Larry H. Miller saying that Malone had "lost a step." He is also upset at Miller for not coming out in agreement with him in saying several players reported to camp out of shape.

- As of Wednesday evening, he had not talked with Miller about his recent frustrations. He plans to meet in the near future, however. "Me and Larry need to talk before Saturday."

- He is upset that he is being made out to look like "a horse's rear" in the media and by the public at large - or at least by those who call talk shows. "When you've done everything I've done for this organization and this state and community, and then people jump on that wagon and slander my name and my wife and kids' names, it disappoints me."

- He doesn't like the huge amount of money that is being thrown out to young players in the league - like Kevin Garnett - "who haven't proven themselves."

Garnett will make $125 million over six years in Minnesota.

- He doesn't think his teammates are mad at him for his comments, but even if they are, it shouldn't matter. "I don't think it hurt at all," he said. "I think it helped because guys, when they got to camp, busted their behinds."

- He doesn't want his wife, Kay, to call radio shows anymore. Kay Malone phoned K-Fan radio Monday morning after hearing her husband being criticized on air.

"She was doing what any wife would do, but I don't agree with her doing it," he said.

- Anything less than an NBA title will not satisfy the Mailman this year.

"Winning the championship is what we're here to do - not just get back (to the Finals)."

Afterward Malone even took about a dozen media members on a room-by-room tour of his home. There were two conditions: No cameras and no one was to report about the house's layout or content. Perhaps, even a very public figure like Malone needs some privacy.