METAIRIE, La. — March Madness may be over but the basketball conversation continues with our exclusive interview with Louisiana native and Basketball Hall of Famer Karl Malone.
In part one of the interview, Malone told Eyewitness Anchor Thanh Truong about the people who influenced him. In part two, Thanh returns the favor.
For a basketball legend, Malone's not really eager to talk about his days on the court. He recently opened 511 Tactical by Karl Malone, a store in Metairie that caters to the military and first responders. Remember, his first dream was to be a marine. The store seems to be a natural fit for Malone.
Malone: I have no room for people being disrespectful, police, first responders or the military. Let me tell you something. There's bad in every profession. There's bad journalists, there's bad cameraman, there's bad police officers, there are bad athletes, OK, we know that, but how about all the good ones. How about all the good ones out there.
A native of north Louisiana, Malone said the store is an extension of his love for the state.
Malone: I was born and raised in north Louisiana, and up until the last 10 years I've gotten to know south Louisiana. I love fishing and hunting, five years ago I ever fished in the gulf.
Thanh: We got a lot of it down here.
Karl: Oh, no, no, I know it. So when you say 'why Metairie?' it's because I wasn't doing anything in south Louisiana, so it was almost like I was a hypocrite. I love all of Louisiana but [I'd think], eh, that South Louisiana; like you guys do [about] north Louisiana. I just love it and spending more and more time here."
Like meeting Ali
In full disclosure, Thanh has idolized Malone and his point guard John Stockton all his life, and as a basketball fanatic he's not afraid to let people know it.
So, after talking with Malone during their exclusive sit down in his new store, Thanh took his chance to explain just went his career meant to the anchor.
Thanh: We talked about how basketball allowed you to get to where you are, it wasn't your way out, but it opened a lot of doors. Basketball for me... I'm one of seven kids, my oldest brother died in Vietnam; when we first got to the states, we were so poor, we four boys, two girls and my parents couldn't afford anything. But what they could afford was a pair of shoes and a basketball. And I played all my life, it allowed me to meet a lot of my friends who I still stay in touch with now. You talk about work ethic. I watched you and I watched Stockton all my life. I always wanted to be point guard, but I wasn't great, so I had to post and I watched both of you. To this day I play twice a week.
Malone: And when you're doing it, the only thing I ever said after a game was, 'Did I leave it all out there?' For that little kid from some small town, did they leave there saying, 'damn, he played hard.'"
In a world where athletes are measured by their championships and people are measured by their income, Malone says we can get obsessed with that pursuit. At 55, the mailman doesn't deliver a lot of dunks anymore but rather lessons he's learned. One of the most important for him: Love and listen to your mom.
Malone: I promise you, for all those days our moms' rode around in a broom, they really didn't. There's not a day goes by that I don't miss my mom. That told me stuff about life lessons. When you make a mistake, own it. Don't wallow in it. If you wallow in the mud with the pig, you're going to get some on you.