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Karl Malone Took A Pay Cut Of Almost $18 Million To Join The Lakers In 2003

By Aikansh Chaudhary,

2023-03-14

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Karl Malone took a huge pay cut of almost $18 million to join the Lakers in 2003 and have a chance at winning an NBA Championship.

Credit: Fadeaway World

The Los Angeles Lakers have always had the ability to attract big-name free agents to the team for a plethora of reasons. Evidently, the Lakers have managed to create several dominant teams over the years.

Back in 2003, the Purple and Gold did so once again by welcoming Karl Malone and Gary Payton to the team. The organization essentially created the first superteam as they had Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton on the roster . Previously, Malone spent 18 seasons with the Utah Jazz, but in his quest for winning the NBA Championship, he took a pay cut of almost $18 million to join the Lakers.

"In July of 2003, just nine days before his 40th birthday, Malone signed with the Lakers. For the upcoming season, he would receive $1.5 million, almost $18 million less than his salary in the previous campaign with the Jazz. But with Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton, and Phil Jackson, he could almost feel that championship ring on his finger."

(Starts at 38:12)

Malone was paid $19.25 million by the Utah Jazz for the 2002-03 NBA season. But it was clear that the team wasn't in a position to win an NBA Championship. Keeping that in mind, Malone made a smart move to join the Lakers in hopes of getting a ring before retiring from the league.

Unfortunately for Malone, the Lakers lost at the hands of the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, and his quest to win an NBA title remained unfulfilled.


What Went Wrong For Karl Malone And The Lakers?

Karl Malone made a name for himself for almost never missing games due to injuries or sickness. So much so that the Mailman missed just six games in 18 seasons with the Utah Jazz.

However, when he joined the Lakers, he sprained his knee, which kept him out for 39 games. Apart from Malone being sidelined with injury, the Kobe-Shaq feud also got worse that season.

Kobe Bryant got involved in off-court controversies as well. And if that wasn't enough, Malone also lost his mother the same year. Despite all that, the Lakers still managed to reach the 2004 NBA Finals. Malone was back on the team by then but re-injured his knee again during the game of the NBA Finals.

Malone retired after the 2004 NBA Finals aged 40 and will forever be regarded as one of the best power forwards in the history of the league.

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