Karl Malone Suspended for One Game
Apr. 10, 1998
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Karl Malone was suspended for one game and fined $5,000 by the NBA today for a blow with his elbow that knocked David Robinson unconcious.
Malone, twice a teammate of Robinson's on U.S. Olympic teams, assured Robinson that the elbow was unintentional. Robinson doubted the blow was intended to hurt him, but was uncertain.
Rod Thorn, the NBA's senior vice president, administered the discipline.
``While I do not believe that Malone intentionally elbowed Robinson, players have a responsibility not to recklessly swing their elbows in a manner that could cause injury to another player,'' Thorn said.
Malone visited Robinson at LDS Hospital after Wednesday night's game. The San Antonio center was hit by an elbow by Malone less than three minutes into Utah's 98-88 victory.
``My first words to him were, `I'm sorry,' '' the Jazz forward said. ``He said, `Karl, those things happen.' ''
``He came in and apologized,'' Robinson said after returning to San Antonio Thursday. ``I accepted his apology. That was pretty much it.''
Robinson said Malone is known to kick and move his arms a lot.
``I've known him a while,'' Robinson said. ``That's the way he plays on the court. I don't really think he was trying to hurt me, but I don't know.''
Robinson was unconscious for about two minutes and was left with a concussion. A CAT scan found no neurological damage. He was held at the hospital overnight and released.
``You don't see a guy get knocked out too often,'' Robinson said. ``It was strange.''
The Spurs said Robinson will not play tonight against Seattle as a precautionary measure.
Robinson and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said they were more worried about the 7-footer's left knee than his head. The knee had bothered Robinson before the elbow from Malone, and Robinson fell on his left side Wednesday.
``I wasn't trying to hit him, of course,'' Malone said during a conference call Thursday. ``David's a great friend of mine. That's just a play that we run, where I turn to the basket like that.''
This was the second straight game in which Malone accidentally injured an opponent. During Utah's 101-99 win at Golden State Tuesday, Malone kneed Warriors forward Donyell Marshall, who left the game with a fractured rib.
``It's just circumstance,'' Malone said of the injuries. ``I haven't made a business of doing that in my career. If I've got to start doing things like that, I don't want to play.''
Robinson was guarding Malone in the lane when the Utah star took a pass from John Stockton and turned to the basket. Malone's elbow caught Robinson on the right side of the head. Robinson was called for a foul.
Malone wasn't pleased by postgame comments from Spurs guard Avery Johnson, who said the elbow was intentional.
``He should be suspended,'' said Johnson, who did not play in the game because of an injury. ``You saw the replay. Two plus two equals four. ... It's a no-brainer.''
``The guy that was causing the most stink about it was the guy over there in street clothes,'' Malone said. ``It's not a big deal between us, but other people are trying to make it a huge deal.''
Tim Duncan, who led the Spurs with 34 points, said the hard elbow could lead to retaliation.
``If it gets to the playoffs and we're up against them, it's going to be a whole different game,'' he said.
``I'm sure some people hold grudges, but I tend not to,'' Malone said. ``If you're a true professional, you can't play well with a chip on your shoulder.''
After viewing a replay at halftime, referee Steve Javie said he didn't think the elbow was intentional.
Malone scored 56 points against the Warriors Tuesday and 32 against the Spurs. On Wednesday, he won the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award for his devotion to children's charities.