SALT LAKE CITY -- After Karl Malone passed Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA career scoring list, he didn't want to talk about Jordan.
He wanted to talk about Marty Blake, the league's longtime scouting director.
"He said I could never play in the NBA," Malone said Monday night. "That stuck in my mind a long time. He said I was lazy, that I didn't work hard and I couldn't play.
"So I want to thank Marty Blake. He gave me, in my own little mind, the drive to succeed," Malone said after the Utah Jazz beat Golden State 115-99.
That came as a surprise to Blake, whose 1985 evaluation of Malone indicated the Louisiana Tech senior had "the potential to be one of the top power forwards in the NBA."
Blake wrote that Malone "will show signs of greatness in many departments then fallback into lapses."
He concluded the report this way: "POTENTIAL to be a star is here... there are very few legitimate power forwards around or coming up. must get his intensity level up but talent is there."
"As you can see, I was right on the mark with Karl," Blake said Tuesday in an interview from his office in Alpharetta, Ga.
Blake is credited with discovering stars from schools off the beaten path, including John Stockton at Gonzaga, Scottie Pippen at Central Arkansas and Dan Majerle at Central Michigan.
Malone brought up Blake during the postgame interview, after scoring 27 points, including the first-quarter jumper that pushed him past Jordan's 29,277-point scoring record.
Malone was drafted with the 13th overall pick in 1985, and blamed Blake after he wasn't taken higher.
"Not that it matters now, but I'm like an elephant," Malone said. "I don't forget those things."
Tuesday, after reading Malone's comments in news stories, Blake sent a letter and a copy of his 1985 evaluation to Malone. Blake admitted his feelings were hurt but said few players thank him after reaching the NBA.
"I was a little upset, but I'm going to be 73," he said. "Not much upsets me anymore."