When it comes to speaking up about the toughness of the modern NBA player, the first former player you expect to hear commentary on without question is Karl Malone.
Aside from not winning an NBA title during his illustrious Hall of Fame career, the “Mailman” always delivered.
But for Malone to knock players in the league today is a bit far fetched, particularly if he is judging that opinion based on one player saying he wears body guard to “protect himself”.
“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,” Malone said in an interview with KSL.com.
Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie recounts the take here.
Okay, so Malone is not a fan of players covering themselves in protective padding. That is fine and is not the route he traveled as a player. But Malone is failing to understand the business in the NBA has changed in many regards from during his day, including teams and companies providing players with new ways to either prevent injuries from occurring or simply playing with a certain comfort level knowing they are protected within the game.
Two years ago, the NBA and Under Armour entered a multi-year partnership together, providing players around the league with “branded performance apparel” and “enhancing the athlete experience”. That is some serious big business. Translation: more padding for everyone!
This is about players having product at their finger-tips and suiting up.
I would hate to think what Malone thought of Patrick Ewing rocking those big volleyball knee pads back in the day with the New York Knicks. I guess Ewing was not tough or needed to "man up" too?
Just because Malone did not feel the need to wear protective gear does not dismiss LeBron James’ or Kobe Bryant’s toughness because they wear a padded sleeve or under wear with padding on the thigh.
This is not about players being wimps.
Come on Mailman.