CHOUDRANT – Karl Malone has gone from the hardwood court to the hardwoods.
Malone, the second-leading scorer in NBA history, retired after 19 years in the league. But he isn’t taking it easy.
In a woods near his new north Louisiana home, Malone was recently at the wheel of a "skidder". The monstrous vehicle is used for dragging stripped trees out of an area that is being thinned out for future development.
"If you get anywhere from nine-to-12 truck loads of logs, then you’re rockin’ and rollin’," grinned Malone. "It’s a good day any time you can get that many. Anything under, you need to get your act together and get after it."
The Malone Timber Company, which has been hired by Squire Creek residential and country club development to thin out timber on some of its currently unsold lots, had hauled out a dozen truckloads by the end of the day.
"We are using Karl’s timber company to do some thinning on future development property, since he was thinning his own acreage that he bought at Squire Creek," said Steve Davison, manager of the development. "We have also used them to thin some of the timber on some of the unsold areas that we have in order that prospective buyers can get a much better look at the lots. Plus, it helps them to avoid some of the cost of clearing a lot once they get ready to build there."
For Malone, owning his own timber company is the perfect way to adjust to life after basketball, one that includes settling down with wife Kay and their children on land located near Squire Creek, rated as one of the country’s best new golf resorts.
Malone, a two-time United States Olympian who was chosen as one of its 50 greatest NBA players ever, finds his new work very satisfying.
"I am passionate about it," said Malone. "First of all, it’s just being outdoors and I’ve been one who loves the outdoors. Hunting, fishing, being outside, this is what I have always loved, ever since I was a youngster."
When he was 12 years old, the Summerfield, La., native would accompany his grandfather to help stack pulp wood on to his truck
"I wasn’t big enough then to do any chopping, but I observed and just fell in love with being with him and learning about the love he for the outdoors and its serenity," said Malone. "Out here, you get your mind on what needs to get done and forget about everything else."
At 41, Malone can do just about what he pleases. But here he is, putting in the long hours and tough work like the next blue collar guy clocking in with a lunch bucket.
Helping out is son Darrell Ford, who is receiving a degree in forestry from Louisiana Tech and is as passionate about his work as his famous father.
"Look, just because I have retired doesn’t mean I stop working," Malone said. "I always said when I left the game, I wasn’t going to just sit around and not do anything. I have to be working, doing things. That’s the way I grew up and the way I was taught. You work for whatever you get in life."
Malone recently donated $85,000 to Louisiana Tech in order to upgrade the athletic weight room that bears his name.
In late May, at the Tech spring commencement exercises, he’ll receive the prestigious Tower of Medallion award given to individuals who have distinguished themselves in a chosen profession.