At one point during Friday night's Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, Karl Malone and John Stockton stood side-by-side on the stage. The premier pick-and-roll pair was back together again. There wasn't a basketball, a hoop or any screens or slams, but the oh-so-right moment had to make Utah Jazz fans nostalgic for glory days gone by. Jazz writer Jody Genessy caught up with the Hall of Fame players at the Naismith Memorial shortly before Malone joined Stockton, a Class of 2009 inductee, as an official member of the place referred to as "hoops heaven" in Springfield, Mass.
Question for Malone: What was your favorite part about playing with John Stockton for 18 seasons?
Malone's answer: I think my favorite part of playing with Stockton was how professional he was. I learned things from him. About our last 10 years together we started competing against each other to see whose body fat would be the lowest coming into camp, which takes work. And some mornings I wouldn't want to train and I said to myself, 'Bet his little (behind) is training.' I would always say that. We wouldn't talk a lot in the summer, but when we came into training camp (we'd ask), 'Hey, what was your body fat?'
Question for Stockton: With Karl Malone joining you in the Hall of Fame, it almost seems like it's supposed to be. What do you think made Malone a Hall of Famer?
Stockton's answer: So many aspects go into making him the type of player that he was. To say he has an incredible work ethic is an understatement. He takes care of himself. He cares about his teammates, cares about people. On the court he drew attention, three, four defenders, everybody on the floor every time he touched it or even (if they) knew he was going to touch it. He had their attention and made all of us better players, made our team better and made us contenders for the 18 years he was there. Boy, the farther I get away from it the more I admire him, and I admired him throughout.
Question for Stockton: Any stories about Malone's work ethic come to mind?
Stockton's answer: We had training camp in Boise, always two-a-days, always difficult, they were tough practices. In between practices guys would do stuff. Some would go swimming, some would lay out, watch TV, whatever. Karl would continue to work out. He would go to the weight room some more. We all spent time in the weight room, but he spent more. Then after the second practice, Jeff Hornacek and Adam Keefe and myself knocked on his (hotel) door to grab him to go to dinner one night, and he wouldn't answer the door. Finally, when he did answer the door after we pounded on it a while, he was on the stair stepper, had been on it for 45 minutes. So that's a little indicator of what he's about.
Question for Stockton: Malone talks about how you pushed each other, even having a friendly rivalry about lowest body fat and playing while injured. What motivated you to do that?
Stockton's answer: The base of all of that is I would never want to let him down under any circumstances, and I think it was reciprocal. The only way to do that is to leave no stone unturned. There would be times where you couldn't get to the weight room during the day and (you'd) sneak into one at 11 o'clock at night. I'd call him back home and just say, 'I'm in the weight room. What are you doing?' He'd return the favor at some early hour in the morning. … There's no question there was a friendly, competitive rivalry that pushed us both.
Question for Malone: So did you ever beat him in the lowest body-fat contest?
Malone's answer: I almost killed myself. I think I beat him once, which for size-wise (was hard). I had no energy and Coach (Jerry) Sloan got on my butt for it, but we had a competitive thing. To play with a guy like that how he took care of his body, how he handled his business ... with him on that court, I thought we could win every game.