Former Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone was never been one to shy away from contact or dish it out during his playing days in the NBA.
For those old enough to remember, this incident comes to mind with San Antonio Spurs own David Robinson (see video).
During his playing days, Malone was a chiseled specimen who was not afraid to throw his weight and his elbows around. He had a reputation for delivering a punishing experience for opponents night in and night out.
So it comes to no surprise his disdain for padding or "armor" (as he puts it) worn by today’s NBA players under their uniforms is something he frowns upon.
Malone who is coaching the Utah Jazz big men shared some of his thoughts on the matter during an interview with Ron Zundel and KSL.com,
"I'm not concerned with your elbow pads, your knee pads, all of your garb and your full body armor. What do you need all that for? Our soldiers need that in Iraq and they're doing a hell of a job for us. Take all that off! We don't need that. What I need you to do is show up and be ready to play. That's it.”
As well as his reaction to seeing one of his players who put on the protective gear.
"I had one of my ‘bigs' today and he had body armor from his thigh to his neck. I ask him what he was doing and he said he was protecting himself. I said 'Who you protecting yourself [from]?' There's no sniper in this building! Man up! If you're hurt, see the trainer and play the game.”
Most NBA players from the 1980s and 1990s would echo Malone’s comments. From around the 2000 NBA season and going forward, the NBA is missing that competitive edge and has made everything and anything a foul.
Some of the plays that draw a whistle in today’s game would have been considered a non-call in the '80s and '90s. If players got into a fight, no one got tossed, technicals were assessed and the game continued. Someone gave a player a good, hard foul, it was simply that, just a good, hard foul.
One may argue the padding is to secure a player's health and longevity in the NBA and that Malone's style of play was excessive. However, how many times have we've seen refs blow their whistle for ticky-tack things on the court. If a player even glances towards another player and the refs see that, a tech is called. Barely shove a player, get tossed.
Well Spurs’ fans, do you believe that today’s players just need to man up and play the game like back in the day sans "armor"?