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Karl Malone 'fired up' for Tuesday as Utah Jazz prepare to host old foe Clippers

GettyImages-72441350 Karl Malone Jazz Clippers.jpg
8 Nov 1999: Maurice Taylor #23 of the Los Angeles Clippers moves with the ball as he is guarded by Karl Malone #32 of the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Jazz defeated the Clippers 94-79.

What does it mean that Karl Malone sat in front of his statue at Vivint Smart Home arena Monday, the day before the Utah Jazz host the L.A. Clippers in the opening game of a playoff series between the two teams?

"Back home," One tweet said with a picture of the statue of Malone with the human version standing in its shadow before a follow-up with video on the next tweet.

Maybe it means the former player will attend the next game or maybe it means nothing, but when the Basketball Hall-of-Fame power forward shows up in Utah, lights a cigar and says, "Giddyup cowboy, you know the rest," Jazz fans will definitely take note.

Video of The Mailman in front of the statue honoring his career with the team that drafted him in front of its area, was posted by twitter account KJ Malone, Karl Malone's son who played football at LSU and very briefly in the NFL.

"Someone is fired up for tomorrow," the tweet said with a video that starts with the statue of Malone's teammate John Stockton, also a Hall of Famer.

The video pans to the ultimate power forward who puffs on a cigar, removes his sunglasses and speaks cryptically and briefly.

Karl Malone, and fans, will remember some of his outstanding playoff performances against the Clippers.

In 1992, Stockton and Malone — sometimes called The Statues in local media — led the Jazz past the Clippers in the midst of the L.A. riots surrounding Rodney King. The Mailman averaged 29.8 points and 12 rebounds but also more than 2 blocks per game in the 3-2 five-game series win. Stockton was great too with averages of 16 points, 16 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2 steals in the series.

The team fell to Portland in the Western Conference Finals.

The two teams met again in 1997 when the Jazz were an elite NBA team that won the Midwest Division title and 64 regular season games. The Jazz swept the Clippers in three games. Mailman delivered 30.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.3 steals in the series. Stockton, bolstered by Jeff Horancek "only" averaged 14.3 points, 11.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2 steals against the overmatched Clippers.

The Jazz lost to the Bulls in the NBA finals.

The Jazz also defeated the Clippers in the first round of the 2017 playoffs, but without Stockton or Malone, instead featuring Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert. Joe Johnson memorably scored 28 points in a Jazz Game 4 victory.

The 2021 version of Malone still looks lean and muscled, although with grey in the his beard. It isn't known if the 6 foot 9 power forward will be in the arena for Game 1 Tuesday or Game 2 Thursday, but to make such a notable appearance outside the arena, it sure seems possible, if not likely.

Fans paying hundreds of dollars for lower bowl tickets probably will be glad to see a Jazz legend, such as Malone, as the current roster tries to establish itself as an all-time great team with the best record in the NBA.