Karl Malone is a terrible person
Every couple months, I see a post that reminds me of Karl Malone’s existence, and how one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history has somehow gotten a pass for being a truly awful human being. Now, he is not the only awful person to get a pass. Just these last few weeks I had the unique privilege of watching NBA Twitter lose its collective mind over their quirky hero, a man who allegedly threw his girlfriend down the stairs and beat her head against the bottom step, bothering LeBron James in a playoff game.
We live in a time where people, myself included, brush off, or even forget about our favorite players sordid pasts, and the NBA media continues to give many of these people platforms. Now, most of these situations are ones that we will never truly know the truth about, and as much as I may scream into the heavens about some of these guys less-than-stellar character, I have no definitive proof. However, Karl Malone is different.
Karl Malone is a terrible person, has always been a terrible person, and will continue to be a terrible person until the end of time, and it takes a 5 minute google search to find at least a half-a-dozen reasons why. Karl Malone once rallied against Magic Johnson’s comeback after he retired due to HIV. He was known for his cheapshots against other players which often resulted in stitches and injuries. Karl Malone hit on teammates’ wives in ways that would make Tony Parker think twice.
One of my favorite pieces on the subject is this one by Jemele Hill, who chronicled Karl Malone’s reputation as a deadbeat father way back in 2006. Deadbeat fathers are nothing new in sports or in life, but Karl Malone found a way to stick out amongst the crowd of deadbeat fathers in a variety of different ways. There was the time he had twins, future WNBA star Cheryl Ford and her brother Daryl, but never became a part of their lives until they were 17 years old and a tabloid ran a story about them.
There’s also the fact that despite making over $100 million during his career, Karl Malone constantly fought against playing the bare minimum when it came to child-support. Now, being a father who is willingly not a part of his child’s life when he has every opportunity to be is its own genre of terrible. However, Karl Malone did so while also refusing to pay for their well-being as he made millions of dollars in the NBA. That’s a special brand of evil that should make him a perpetual villain regardless, but then there’s the story of another son, Demetress Bell, who, according to Hill’s article, not only fell victim to Malone’s deadbeat ways and desire not to pay for his well-being, but was born as the result of a relationship between a 20-something Karl Malone and Bell’s then 13-yeat-old mother.
In a league where guys like Kobe Bryant or Derrick Rose may get a pass by many for never being proven guilty, Karl Malone proves that it doesn’t truly matter if a player is guilty or not, they will still be remembered for what they do on-court and everything else is secondary. A paternity test proved that he was Bell’s father. It was Bell’s mother and grandparents who Malone fought in court to avoid paying child-support. Karl Malone is a statutory rapist. There is a living, breathing human who is proof of this. If that is not enough, he then left the 13 year old mother of his kid out to dry and refused to be there for the kid, even going so far as to refuse a relationship with Demetress Bell, who would eventually become an NFL Player, when he reached out to him.
Karl Malone is a terrible person. The NBA can do everything it wants to try to get with the times and say that they are allies of women, but the fact remains that they continue putting people like him on pedestals, despite the fact that we know about their pasts. People often ask if they are not allowed to celebrate these people as professionals, but what is gained by doing so? Karl Malone is without a doubt one of the best basketball players to ever live, but when we know about this other stuff, how can we just accept it and move on? Leagues and fans alike need to stop enabling such behavior, and hold these guys accountable for their pasts. Making baskets does not erase the past, and we should stop treating professional accomplishment as some sort of excuse to do just that.