Today is Karl Malone's 50th birthday. And to commemorate the big day, The Salt Lake Tribune just ran a long story on the former Jazz star over here. It features a lot of info about what Malone is doing today to stay active within the Jazz organization. But it also features a really funny story about something that former Jazz coach Frank Layden did back in 1985 to welcome Malone to Utah.
On July 24, 1985—Malone's 22nd birthday—the first-round draft pick out of Louisiana Tech made his first trip to Salt Lake City to visit with his new team. And his visit just so happened to coincide with the state's annual Pioneer Day. So Layden asked Malone to ride on the team's float to help celebrate the state holiday during a parade. Furthermore, he also told Malone that the parade was being thrown in honor of his birthday—and Malone totally took that and ran with it.
"That's no urban legend," he told the Tribune. "That's the truth…I was waving like a [beauty] pageant queen. If there were cell phones back then, I would have called my mom and said, 'You won't believe it. All of Utah is here for me.'"
If there were cell phones back then—and, more importantly, sports blogs—video of Malone waving would have ended up all over the Internet. He would have looked like a complete jackass, courtesy of his new head coach. So how did his Layden break the news to him and let him know that the parade was not being held for him?
"I can't believe you fell for that one," Layden said after the parade ended, according to Malone.
Good one, coach. Good one.