Karl Malone was a topic of controversy during NBA All-Star weekend. Once he was announced as a judge for the NBA Dunk Contest, Malone’s past of impregnating a 13-year-old, while in college resurfaced.
As Malone made more appearances through the weekend, including standing next to LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the Sunday stage, two titans and highly-respected figures in NBA history, the criticisms of the NBA’s decision to include the Jazz legend grew louder.
In 1983, Malone, then 20 years old, impregnated 13-year-old Gloria Bell. The son of the two would go on to play in the NFL but did not meet Malone until he was 17 years old. Bell’s family didn’t pursue criminal action because he was a “neighborhood kid” and he could not provide child support from behind bars.
Malone is long known to be private in his retirement. According to Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune, Malone was hoping that he was not allowed to speak with him. Monson wrote Malone would only grant Tribune reporters media availability if the columnist was removed from the party, a contract to previous interactions that included invites to pool parties and radio interviews.
Earlier in the weekend, Malone stated to another Tribune reporter, “I know people talk negatively about me.”
Speaking at the Legends Lounge, Malone is quoted as saying, “I’m not discussing any of that backlash. I don’t care. That’s my life, that’s my personal life, and I’ll deal with that like I’ve had to deal with everything. So, whatever.”
About the narrative about him online: “Whatever. I’m human.”