Whenever the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals are discussed, the on-court greatness of Jazz forward Karl Malone is brought to the forefront. With that comes the allegations Malone has faced for decades about fathering a child with a 13-year-old girl.
Malone, of course, was a key cog in Utah's back-to-back championship series appearances, creating a dynamic pick-and-roll combo with John Stockton. He won MVP in the 1996-97 and 1998-99 seasons.
But his reported transgressions, which some discovered through social media while watching "The Last Dance" on Sunday night, are unavoidable when analyzing his legacy and the success of those Jazz teams.
Malone reportedly impregnated 13-year-old girl Gloria Bell when he was a student at Louisiana Tech before agreeing to an out-of-court settlement with her family regarding child support payments. Such an allegation might have been career-ending had it happened more recently. Malone has never commented publicly on the allegations.
Talk of Malone's past was all over Twitter on Sunday as the final episodes of the "The Last Dance," a documentary series about Michael Jordan's career, aired on ESPN. Jordan's Bulls beat the Jazz in the NBA Finals in consecutive seasons.
A post by Cavs forward Kevin Love unintentionally magnified the allegations, which are considered credible and backed by a DNA test.
Karl Malone was a BAD man. Those matchups with Rodman>>>
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) May 18, 2020
He was a bad man for other reasons too
— malik (@malik_6123) May 18, 2020
He was a VERY bad man let’s not forget that
— Stid the Kid Official Fan Page (@joeyshortsleeve) May 18, 2020
Yup you got the bad part right.
— C (@mynameischrisv) May 18, 2020
Those Jazz squads of the late 1990s are among the best teams to have gone without a championship triumph, but because of Malone's alleged off-the-court actions, they might never be looked at the same way as other prominent teams of that era.