On Oct. 8, NBA TV will debut its third season of Open Court. In the season premiere, Isiah Thomas sits down with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and a bunch of other color commentators and analysts. At one point in the conversation, Thomas discusses the Utah Jazz of the 1990s and that's where things got interesting.
“I thought Utah, going back to that team, I thought they had everything it took to win a championship,” he said. “They had the system, the players, the toughness, they were defensive-minded and everything. I always thought like Malone was the weakest link because he wasn’t a good foul shooter. Had he been a good foul shooter they would have beat Chicago.”
When asked by Ernie to expand on what he means by referring to Karl Malone as the weakest link, Zeke said the following:
“That’s a weak link, because at the end of a game when you are playing at that level, you come down to the last 30 seconds or the last minute of the game, if that guy can’t make fouls shots then he’s the weak link. He’s the guy that you are fouling, the guy you want to put on the line. You’re not fouling [John] Stockton. You’re not putting him on the line, you’re not letting him take the shot. Everything is going to Malone. I thought Malone’s inability to hit free throws is what stopped them from winning a championship.”
But, as For The Win points out, when the Jazz played the Chicago Bulls in the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals, Malone shot 72 percent and 78.8 percent, respectively. Not a terrible percentage, but at the same time, Isiah and his 75.9 career free throw percentage shouldn't be talking about effectiveness from the charity stripe. Just saying.
[via For The Win]