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Malone claims second MVP award
Posted: Friday June 04, 1999 12:14 AM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- This wasn't the trophy Karl Malone hoped to be holding at the end of the season.
Actually, Malone wasn't even holding the Maurice Podoloff Trophy on Thursday after winning his second NBA Most Valuable Player award in three years. It's still in New York, where Malone is expected to pick it up over the weekend.
"So they got me a hat," he said bemusedly, while looking at an "MVP" cap sent to him by the league office.
It was that kind of season for the 35-year-old forward, another banner individual year marred by setbacks in other areas, notably Utah's failure to win its first title.
"I wish we were here in a different scenario, but we're not," Malone said. "Last time when I won this award, I went out on the court, held it up and then had to go back to playing ball. ... I prefer doing that to doing this."
Despite posting his lowest scoring (23.8 per game) and rebounding (9.4) numbers in over a decade, he edged fellow big men Alonzo Mourning of Miami and Tim Duncan of San Antonio in the voting by 118 media members.
Malone received 827 points and 44 first-place votes to Mourning's 773 points and 36 first-place votes. Duncan, the second-year big man many thought deserved the award after a late-season surge, received 740 points and 30 first-place votes.
Malone, who also won the award in 1997, is the ninth player to win the MVP award twice. It comes at the conclusion of a 12-month span in which Malone wrestled Dennis Rodman on pay-per-view, started a short-lived talk radio show, vowed to never again play for the Jazz and then returned, all but promising to finish his career in Utah.
He then led the Jazz to a league-best 37-13 record, but his team sputtered down the stretch and was eliminated from te playoffs in the second round by the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah's earliest exit since 1995.
"This whole year was weird, so to top it off with this was really special," Malone said. "I didn't like the way I plaed in the playoffs, but I'm getting the award Saturday, and I'm not giving it back."
Malone is the first MVP in nine seasons to fail to take his team to at least the conference finals. Magic Johnson's Los Angeles Lakers also were upset in the second round of the playoffs in 1990.
"Individual awards are nice because they come with the territory, but you play this game for a championship," Malone said. "Everybody knows we're disappointed with what happened, but this could start the healing process on that."
Malone grinned when asked if he would trade the MVP trophy for a championship.
"Yeah, because I have another one," he said. "I'd trade the one from '97. This one is different, but it's still bigger for me."
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