February 13, 2005 The legendary Karl Malone called it quits after 19 seasons in the NBA. One of the greatest power forwards ever to play the game decided he'd had enough, even if he never got that elusive championship ring.
All Malone did throughout his career was become a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a 14-time NBA All-Star, and an 11-time member of the All-NBA first team. He scored the second most career points in NBA history (36,928) behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), and holds the records for most free throws attempted and made. He averaged 25.0 points per game and 10.1 rebounds in 1,476 games played.
Malone played 18 seasons with the Utah Jazz alongside fellow Hall of Famer John Stockton. Watching the two of them was a thing of beauty. They perfected the pick-and-roll play and no one could really stop it.
If it wasn't for that guy named Michael Jordan, "The Mailman" probably would have delivered the Jazz a title. The great Jazz teams would fall short in 1997 and 1998 in the NBA Finals to Jordan's Bulls, including the devastating last-second shot of Jordan's career in Game 6 to end the series.
Malone would again make the NBA Finals in his final season with the Los Angeles Lakers, but a knee injury really set him back and in the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons he played as a shell of himself and couldn't even go for Game 5. The Lakers lost the series in five games and Malone never played again.
After that season, Malone had knee surgery and didn't want to return to the Lakers because of some beef with Kobe Bryant. He actually just came out and said if Kobe is still mad he filtered with his wife he'd fight him. But Malone decided he'd had enough of the game of basketball.
Check out this great documentary by ESPN on Malone:
Here's to you Karl Malone and all you gave us on the court.