Jazz legend and Hall of Famer Karl Malone celebrated his 50th birthday at his car dealership in Draper Wednesday afternoon, signing autographs and posing for pictures with his adoring fans.
"This is where I grew up as a man," Malone explained why he was celebrating his birthday in Utah. "This is my home away from home, so it's neat to come here and enjoy the day."
The NBA's second all-time leading scorer is still in great shape at 50. In fact, he's still at his playing weight of 256 pounds. So, could he still play in the NBA today?
"No, sir," Malone said with a smile. "It's not going to happen. I'm a firm believer in living right, taking care of your body, try to be active and keep the stress out of your life. I'm a better man and a better person to be around when I get my sweat going. Then I'm in a happy place. When you stay active, you feel good."
Last month, Malone was hired as a part-time assistant coach with the Jazz to work with big men Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
"I have to be in good shape to work with those guys," Malone said.
Malone knows not all Jazz fans loved him all the time. But he'll never forget how they accepted him into the community.
"I'm Baptist, from the South and came to a predominantly white, Mormon area, and they accepted me," he said. "Why wouldn't I want to be here at 50? The people that didn't like Karl Malone then, don't like him now. But I tell them, 'I'm still here, 50 years old.'"
Of course, the best Karl Malone birthday story came back in 1985, Malone's first year in Utah. Former head coach Frank Layden told Malone that the Pioneer Day parade was really for his birthday, and Malone believed it.
"That really happened," Malone recalled. "Coach Layden waited until we pulled into Liberty Park and said, 'There's a lot of people here for you.' I said. 'Absolutely!' He said, 'Hey, this is really for the Days of '47, so don't get too excited.' I was like, 'Well that's a bummer.' That's not a myth, that's real. If I had a phone at the time, I would have called my mom and said, 'You won't believe this!'"
It's been a charmed life so far for Karl Malone. Here's to 50 more years.