Karl Malone, the bruising power forward with the action-figure body who was known as "The Mailman," and Reggie Miller, the rail-thin shooting guard with the elastic body who was known for hitting critical shots, are calling it quits.
Malone, one of the NBA's greatest power forwards and the second-ranking scorer of all time, will officially announce his retirement Sunday in Utah, where he played 18 years with the Jazz before spending one season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Miller, one of the NBA's greatest long-distance shooters, had his sister, Cheryl, announce his plans to retire from the Indiana Pacers at the end of this season -- his 18th -- on the TNT network on Thursday night.
After 19 seasons in the NBA, Karl Malone decides to call it quits.
Both players will be eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame in five years, which should be automatic. Malone, the league's most valuable player in 1997 and 1999, finishes his career with 36,928 points -- 1,459 behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the NBA's career scoring list. He formed a lethal pick-and-roll tandem with John Stockton, leading the Jazz to the NBA Finals twice.
Malone was selected one of the "50 Greatest Players in NBA History" in 1996. He also was an 11-time first team all-NBA player, making 14 all-star appearances and winning two Olympic gold medals. Utah Coach Jerry Sloan told reporters in Utah that Malone was "a unique individual and I'm glad I got the opportunity to coach him."
Miller ranks 14th in NBA history in scoring with 24,685 points and holds NBA records for most three-pointers made (2,505) and attempted (6,321). He appeared in five all-star games, 131 playoff games and the 2000 NBA Finals.
Miller gained national recognition in 1994, when he traded words with movie director Spike Lee while scoring 25 fourth-quarter points in an Eastern Conference finals victory over the New York Knicks. A year later against the Knicks, he scored eight points in the final 8.9 seconds for a 107-105 playoff win in Madison Square Garden.
"He was a constant threat on many very good teams," Pacers chief executive Donnie Walsh told the Associated Press. "On top of that, he was a thorough professional both on and off the court. If in fact this is his last season, I will miss him."
The 41-year-old Malone, the 13th pick of the 1985 NBA draft, has not played since last season with the Lakers. He took a reduced salary in an attempt to win an elusive NBA championship, but the Lakers failed to win despite a lineup of Malone, Shaquille O'Neal, Gary Payton and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers lost in five games to the Detroit Pistons, while Malone was forced to miss to miss the final three with an injured right knee.
Malone had knee surgery and became a free agent last summer, saying that he would only re-sign with the Lakers -- until Bryant suggested that Malone made inappropriate advances to Bryant's wife. Malone denied the accusation and contemplated signing with the San Antonio Spurs before deciding to retire.
Miller, the 11th pick of the 1987 draft, will turn 40 in August and has said in recent years that he didn't plan to play past that age. In recent seasons, Miller has deferred to Jermaine O'Neal as the primary offensive option. He is averaging 11.9 points this season, but his hopes of retiring with an NBA championship were hampered following a brawl involving Pacers players in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Nov. 19, which led to a season-long suspension for all-star forward Ron Artest.
Cheryl Miller said on TNT that her brother took pride that he was able to spend his entire career with the same team "something we don't see a lot of in sports today." When Miller re-signed with the Pacers two years ago, he took a thinly veiled shot at Malone -- his former teammate on the 1996 Olympic team -- for signing with the Lakers. "I didn't want to be like some other guys who jump on another team's bandwagon just to get a ring," Miller said. Stockton, who played 19 seasons with Utah, is the only player in NBA history who played longer for only one franchise.