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Last Updated: Friday, 16 May, 2003, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Ode to Malone and Stockton

By John Amaechi
Utah Jazz forward/centre

The season is over and already there have been significant changes at the Utah Jazz.

John Stockton has announced his retirement and questions have been asked about Karl Malone's next move.

I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to play with two of the best point-guards in NBA history this year in John and Mark Jackson, as well as the one of the league's best forwards.

John and Mark are number one and two respectively in career assists and in an era when the "pure point-guard" seems rarer than ever, I don't think anyone is going to get near them.

As for Karl, I don't think there will ever be a power player who can take (and dish out) as much punishment as he has over the years.

It does seem as if more changes are imminent though, with the likely departure of Karl to another team, perhaps even a Western Conference title contender like the Lakers or Dallas.

From a fan's perspective it might be nice to see Karl play in a different jersey, but I know Utah supporters have already had one day of mourning and are not looking forward to any more tears.

It is a truly amazing feat to have played for as long as both John and Karl and rarer still to have done that with only one team for a whole career.

John and Karl have played with Utah for nearly two decades.

It is hard to imagine a career that long for most basketball players - the kind of consistency, conditioning and commitment it takes to stay healthy and play at the highest levels for that long is mind-boggling.

Karl Malone (left) and John Stockton
The greatest combo ever?

Neither John nor Karl get a lot of attention as pure athletes - especially John, but both are.

Despite their virtual disappearance to be with family and friends in their respective cities, they both return to Salt Lake city for pre-season camp in immaculate condition.

They always come back rested but ready to work and in mid-season shape as far as the cardio-vascular is concerned.

Karl has told me he feels one of the biggest reasons for his longevity is the fact that he never lets himself get out of shape.

He doesn't kill himself all summer, but is always taking time lifting weights, hiking and running in the mountains and going on cross-country bike rides.

I have had the "pleasure" of going on both a mountain ride and a cross-country run with Karl and they are definitely not for the faint of heart.

Three full hours on a mountain bike going up hills so steep that gear choice meant that pedestrians passed us.

When I was taken on the hike Karl thought it wise that we ran part way and walked up hills backwards to really "feel the burn".

I burned all right - for about three days afterwards!

I am not sure of all Karl and John's secrets for being so good for so long. I am positive that is has a great deal to do with personal pride in what they do and the desire they have always had to be the best.

It is possible now the dynasty is about to break up, that they have achieved just that, being the most remarkable point-guard and power-forward to ever play the game.

I certainly am glad they stuck around long enough for me to join them, since throughout college - and I have never told them this - I had a poster on my wall of John Stockton making a lob pass to Karl Malone for a dunk.

It was the only basketball poster I have ever owned.

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