SALT LAKE CITY -- Karl Malone will keep the ball that lifted him past Wilt Chamberlain. The Hall of Fame will have to settle for a plain old game ball.
Malone passed Chamberlain for second place on the NBA's career scoring list after taking a feed from John Stockton and hitting a scoop shot in the lane.
The historic points came during the second quarter of Utah's 98-84 victory over Toronto on Tuesday night. Going in, Malone needed eight points to pass Chamberlain.
"It was a great relief. Everybody was reminding me about it," said Malone, who finished with 31 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. "I was glad when it was over."
Fans rose for an ovation that lasted several minutes, even as play continued. When a whistle blew for a dead ball, Malone was mobbed by teammates.
"I felt like a football player who scored the winning touchdown," he said. "Everyone piled on top of me."
Malone also was thrown out of his own party. He got a late technical for jawing with Toronto's Kevin Willis, then another with less than a minute to play for arguing with a referee.
"I'll always remember this night. I'll also remember I got kicked out," Malone said.
Malone, 37, now has 31,443 points in his 16-year career. Chamberlain had 31,419 in 14 seasons. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tops the list at 38,387.
At his average of about 23 points a game, Malone would need to play about four more seasons to catch Abdul-Jabbar. Malone will try to break the mark only if he continues to play well.
"I won't stay around just for the record and I won't come back from a serious injury," he said. "I think about things I want to do for myself, with my family and my kids. I see other athletes who stay too long. I don't want to."
There was no ceremony to mark the occasion Tuesday night. David Allred, Utah's vice president for public relations, said the Jazz only stage ceremonies for NBA or team records.
"Karl only passed Wilt," Allred said. "I know it's significant, but the question becomes, 'Do we stop the game every time John Stockton has an assist or a steal?"'
Stockton, 38, is the NBA's career leader in assists and steals, extending those records every time he plays.
So the game continued with the same ball, which was set aside later. Allred will ship it to a contractor in Dallas who paints it to mark the occasion, then it will be given to Malone.
"For all of our players, every significant ball over the course of their careers is in their hands," Allred said. "The organization doesn't keep the balls."
The Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., would love to have the ball, but that's up to Malone. The Jazz will send another ball that was used during the game.
"The player usually asks for the game ball," said John Doleva, the Hall's chief operating officer. "We might get a ball, one used during the game, but not the one he scored the points with."
The Hall also has asked the Jazz for ticket stubs, shoes, uniforms, practice gear and other items used and signed by Malone, not only from Tuesday night's game but also over the course of the 2000-01 season.
Hall officials made a similar request for items from Stockton, who last month surpassed John Havlicek's previous NBA record of 1,270 games with the same franchise.
Malone said his night was tempered because Chamberlain couldn't see it. He died in October 1999, a man who changed the game with his prolific skills.
"I've scored a lot of points, but it's still Wilt Chamberlain," Malone said. "He was a pioneer in this league and a guy I have a great deal of respect for."
The 7-foot-1 Chamberlain was such a force that the NBA changed several rules to make the game harder for him.
The lane was widened to keep Chamberlain farther from the basket and the NBA also instituted offensive goaltending and revised its free-throw shooting rules.
Chamberlain averaged 30.1 points a game over 14 seasons. His famed 100-point night in March 1962 remains a single-game NBA record that probably won't be matched.
Malone hasn't done too poorly, either. He's considered the league's definitive power forward.
"The guys in front of him, Wilt and Kareem, are centers," said Utah coach Jerry Sloan. "He's not a center. He's the first power forward to be at this level. That is quite an accomplishment."
A sculpted 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds, Malone is well-known for his grueling offseason workouts. He's missed seven games during his career, three to injuries and four to league suspensions.
"Every day we see Karl Malone coming to work and how he prepares himself," Sloan said. "Hats off to the guy. If anyone deserves anything that comes along in this game, he does."
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