Move over, Wilt
Malone nudges Chamberlain down another notch
By Desmond M. Wallace, CNNSI.com
When Wilt Chamberlain, pro basketball's first 7-foot superstar, retired from the game in 1973 after scoring 31,419 points, few would have believed this day would ever come.
Sure, fellow giant Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would pass Chamberlain 11 years later to become the NBA's all-time leading scorer. But who ever would have dreamed that a 6-foot-9 power forward would also eclipse the once-untouchable points standard?
On Dec. 5 with a scoop shot in the lane in the second period of Utah's 98-84 win against Charlotte, Utah's Karl Malone moved past Chamberlain into second place on the all-time scoring list.
Of the nearly 3,000 men in more than 12,500 combined seasons to have laced 'em up on NBA hardwoods, Malone trails only Abdul-Jabbar and his 38,387 career points.
To fully appreciate Malone's penchant for point production, consider that only three other power forwards have managed as many as 20,000 career points, let alone the Jazz star's 31,443 (through Dec. 5). When 11-time All-Star Charles Barkley called it quits at the end of last season, he still trailed Malone by more than 7,000 points.
Remarkably, Malone amassed his point total without ever having led the league in scoring. Abdul-Jabbar led the NBA twice, while Chamberlain led the league seven times. In 13 of his previous 15 NBA seasons, Malone finished in the top five in points per game.
Even under the most optimistic of projections, the 37-year-old Malone still has a way to go before thinking about passing Abdul-Jabbar. Malone would need to average 26 every night to catch Abdul-Jabbar by February 2004.