Karl Malone's Maurice Podoloff Trophy finally got its "buddy" on Thursday.

The NBA officially named Malone the Most Valuable Player of the 1999 season. As such, he received another Podoloff Trophy to go along with the one he won earned two years ago for being the 1996-97 league MVP. He has said many times over the last two years that he'd like another MVP so his "buddy won't be lonely" up on the mantle at the Malone home.While Malone's second MVP award was announced on Thursday, it was not exactly a well-kept secret. The ballots of the media members who vote on the award were returned to the NBA during the final week of the regular season more than a month ago. At about the same time the Deseret News took a straw poll of 51 of the 118 media members who voted and Malone was the clear leader.

Since then, sources in the NBA office confirmed that Malone would be the winner. The only question came as to where Malone would be when the award was announced. The NBA usually announces the award during the conference finals -- which are going on right now -- and the MVP has usually still been playing and easy to locate for a press conference.

The MVP's team has been in the conference finals every year since the 1989-90 season -- when then MVP Magic Johnson's Lakers were upset in the second round.

This season, Malone's Utah Jazz were upset in the second round by the Portland Trail Blazers, when Malone produced his all-time playoff low of eight points in the final game. Since the Jazz were no longer in the playoffs, the NBA wanted Malone to fly out to New York City to pick up his award on NBC television. The Mailman refused.

So the NBA issued the official announcement out of New York on Thursday, with Malone here in Utah to do interviews on Thursday afternoon.

Coincidentally, Alonzo Mourning, who finished second in the MVP balloting this year, also made an early exit from the playoffs. Mourning's Miami Heat were upset in the first round. Tim Duncan of the Spurs, who placed third in the voting, is the only one of the top three MVP candidates still playing.

Malone had some ups and downs during the frantic, 50-game, lockout-shortened season. He suffered through perhaps his longest shooting slump ever. Over one seven-game stretch, the career 52.8 percent shooter was 43-of-123 (35 percent) and wasn't better than 50 percent from the field in any of those games.

His string of 575 straight games of double figures scoring was snapped when he was ejected early in the third quarter of a loss to the Clippers.

But Malone worked his way out of his shooting slump, finishing the final six weeks of the season on fire. He scored 30-plus points in 10 of the 50 games and finished third in the league in scoring average (23.8 ppg). He pulled down 10 or more rebounds in 21 games, finishing 14th in the league with 9.4 rebounds per game average. He also delivered from the foul line with a career-best 78.8 percent success rate and was also named to the NBA's all-defensive first team.

View Comments

In addition, Malone will be named to the league's All-NBA team for a record 11th time this year, showing just how consistent he has been during his 14-year career. No other player in league history has been on the All-NBA team 11 times. Greats like Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob Cousy and Jerry West made the team 10 times each, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird nine apiece.

Malone joins an elite group of nine players with more than one MVP Award, led by Jabbar who has six and Jordan and Bill Russell with five each.

Already fourth on the all-time scoring charts trailing only Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Jordan, Malone is expected to re-sign with the Jazz for four more years this summer. At his current rate, Malone will pass Jordan and Chamberlain and be within 2,000 points of Jabbar when his new contract expires.

"I can't say enough about Karl Malone," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. "I have never been around a guy like him that works so hard and puts so much into trying to stay in great shape. He's ready to play every night. He comes at you and plays hard and takes a lot of lumps buts gets back up and keeps going."

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.