Karl Malone has spent half of his life in a Utah Jazz uniform. He is idolized and worshipped by the tremendous fans in Salt Lake City. Malone should close out his playing career where he started it; those fans deserve that. Is a ring more important than 20 years of Utah fan adulation; I donít think so, and Iím as competitive as it gets. Jim Rome disagrees; he feels players need a ring to make their careers whole. That is utter nonsense. I can cite great players in all the major sports who never achieved ring status, but whose careers were star-studded Hall-of-Fame careers without the banner. Besides, Iím a Lakers fan, so down through the years, Iíve loved to hate Karl Malone. And watching Malone and his mouth take part in a Lakers championship motorcade through downtown L.A. is one dreadful thought. And to compound that felony, heíll be wearing #32, thanks to Magic, the same Magic he bashed when Johnson was tested positive for HIV. Malone just doesnít belong in a Lakers uniform.
Story of the Week
THE RICHARD BROTHERS
You donít pronounce their last name in the apparent conventional way. Although spelled Richard, it is pronounced Rishard. Two famous French Canadians, brothers, stars of the Montreal Canadiens.
Maurice Richard, known as "Rocket Richard", was a great NHL winger. He was the first NHL player to score 500 goals, and set a new high of 544 career goals before retiring from the game in 1960.
He is best remembered for his playoff performances. "Rocket Richard" scored six playoff overtime goals, still an NHL record. His 82 playoff goals included 18 game-winners, four hat tricks, two four-goal games, and a five-goal barrage against Toronto in a championship series.
He definitely had a flair for the dramatics. In the seventh game of the 1952 semi-finals against the Boston Bruins, Richard was knocked unconscious early, but returned to the ice late in the third period, still woozy and with blood streaming down his face from the deep forehead gash to score the tie-breaking goal. This was common-place for "Rocket Richard", an NHL star for 18 years.
His little brother, Henri, was known as "The Pocket Rocket". A center-iceman of smaller stature than famous brother Maurice, Henri joined the Canadiens in 1955. Although only 5-7 and 160, he made his own mark on the game. Unlike his big brother, Henri didnít go through the defense to get to the goal; he simply went around it.
Henri centered the line of his brother and the great Dickie Moore. This line made a major contribution to the five consecutive Stanley Cup victories Henri Richard enjoyed in his first five NHL seasons. He fed his wingers brilliantly, and led the league in assists in 1957-58, earning a spot on the first All-Star team.
Moore won two scoring championships, and both he and Maurice credit Henri with extending their careers and making them more complete players. Although Henri was never the prolific scorer his brother was, he eventually set the family records for assists, points and seasons played.
Henri played with doggedness, and was immune to intimidation despite his slight build by comparison. He was an excellent player at both ends of the ice, very smart, and seemed to always be around the puck.
"The Pocket Rocket" entered his 20th. NHL season in 1975. But after a broken ankle was slow to heal, he decided to quit then and there. His 11 Stanley Cup rings stand as a record that will never be broken.
Montreal fans will remember "The Rocket" and "The Pocket Rocket." All veteran NHL fans will.
Last Weekís Trivia
What do Hakeem Olajuwan and Sam Bowie have in common? They were both drafted ahead of Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA draft. Houston needed a center, and drafted Hakeem. Portland had a shooting guard, Clyde Drexler, and felt the need for a center more, and drafted Bowie. Chicago then picked Jordan. Olajuwon, like Jordan, is on the list of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. It will come as no surprise to anyone that Bowie is not on that list.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who are the only two players in baseball history to hit 200 home runs in both the American and National Leagues? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.