NBA legend Karl Malone has a power forward record that remains unsurpassed since his 2005 retirement. Having played in the NBA for 19 years – mostly with the Utah Jazz and a single year with Los Angeles Lakers – he is the second leading scorer in the history of the NBA, 36,928 points to be exact.
A towering 6’9,” he answers to the handle, “The Mailman,” occasionally, a moniker he was bestowed while in college for delivering amazing performances.
At 51, the two time Olympic gold medalist’s heart is beating to a different drum. With his new public awareness campaign, “Karl Delivers For You,” Malone is spreading the word about heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for African-American women.
The North Louisiana native loves the outdoors and spending time with his wife and seven kids. Here, he discusses what his mother taught him, health goals, and of course his favorite sport, basketball.
What is one your most memorable experiences in the NBA?
My best NBA experience I would have to say was when I was told once in my career that I wasn’t good enough to be on a team … the Olympic team. I love coach Knight, but it was more of a popularity contest and I got cut from that team. Then to fast forward 10, 12 years later to be on the original Dream Team, I would have to say is my best moment as a NBA player. I was never in the military but to hear the National Anthem playing the whole time and knowing what our soldiers and first responders deal with for a brief moment, I was just so American, to the core. It was unbelievable. Our military and our first responders are off the chart.
People would always say I “didn’t have what it took to make it to the next level.” I “didn’t work hard.” I “was not motivated.” I was “overweight” and I “wasn’t going to be able to play hard” so to hear that and be who I am is wonderful. I never said anything. I just when out there and played.
What does it take to be an NBA All-Star?
It used to be you have certain stats. Now, maybe it’s a popularity contest. Who knows? I don’t know the definition of a NBA All-Star. It’s not for me to decide;it’s for the voters. I’ll tell you this. You absolutely love when the fans vote you in. That’s awesome because you are popular and the fans like you. My fondest is when your peers select you. Not the commissioner. I’m talking about the other coaches that you played against. Meaning yes, you want the fans to vote you in. The era we have now is nice, but I cherish the hour we were in. I’m not one of those “When I played” kinda guys, but those are some of my fondest memories. You would suit up your shoes, listen to the National Anthem and cool out.
What should we ask ourselves about our health everyday?
Well, I would say the first thing you ask yourself is “how can I be healthy?” It’s a way of life and you only get one body. Take care of it. Have an honest conversation with your doctor about your health. We hold our doctors at a high standard but they also need to have your input. I lost my mom to a heart attack as well as my grandmother 12 years ago this August, suddenly. What people don’t realize is African Americans are at the highest risk of heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, hypertension, as they call it. Speak the language. Understand. Ask questions. Having lost my mom, I always wanted to say if I could do one thing to save her or give someone else the information my mom didn’t have, I would do it.
We have a higher risk but it’s a world problem and it doesn’t discriminate. Male, female, young, old. It doesn’t matter but that’s something we can control.
What kind things should we know about healthy heart routines?
Number one, my perception is you heart is what drives the body. I think it’s a way of life. I’m not a doctor but my healthy heart routine as an athlete was if I take care of my body, my body will take care of me ad it all starts with the heart. Healthy heart. Healthy mind. Healthy body. It all goes together and I always say “hey boy. keep that ticker right.
What kind of routines do you do to keep a healthy heart?
I’m a big trainer. I love working out. I do a lot of cardio. I hunt. I’m an outdoorsman. I bike. I do a lot of extreme hiking. I don’t do side hills. I like to go straight up. I don’t get so concerned when my heart rate is up. I just like to push the envelope. My routine … and I’m not going to say I’m a fitness nut – but I love training because I love the results of training. You look good. You feel good. You think good. If I am sitting in a room and we have a meeting of some sort, making big decisions, when I train, it flows better for me. If I train early morning, my whole day is pretty much set along with the energy I have. When you warm a diesel engine up, you leave it running for as long as you want to but when you shut it off you have to start it again tomorrow. I am not a Ferrari. I’m a diesel. When you warm me up, keep me warm and then I’m done for the day.
Could you define the importance of healthy teamwork?
It’s kind of like anything else. If you have a team around you, everybody buys into being healthy it resonates. Even in business. Studies show that teams that do some kind of physical activity beforehand are better or produce 20 times more. When you sweat, things just kind of happen.
Finish the sentences.
My mother taught me …
Never let anything go unchallenged. You control your own destiny. You write your own novel with you as the start and everyone who is you co-stars.
You should set health goals because …
You want to be healthy. You want to be able to interact and spend time with the ones you love the most. And, if you ever have kids, you are going to want grandkids and I’m sure you want to be around them for a while.
I am asking to community to do be more informed about their health I asking community to have about healthy hearts. I would ask them to be more concerned.
I am asking the community to visit Karldeliversforyou.com. Read my story.