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History of BFS as The Jazz Strength Coaches
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Winter 1997

A. Over the last five years the Jazz have led the NBA in least amount of injuries.

B. The Jazz have led the NBA in least amount of injuries 10 out of the last 12 years.

C. You are fined $35,000 if you miss a strength and conditioning workout under certain conditions.

D. Every player is rated on their intensity and effort on every workout.

E. If you are not under 12% bodyfat, you could pay a daily fine until you are.

F. If you don't play at least 20-minutes in a game, you run off the floor and workout hard aerobically for 20-minutes.

G. A BFS Coach traveled with the team on longer road trips.  The Jazz will workout twice a week in-season.

The Utah Jazz have hired Mark McKown as their new full-time Strength and Conditioning Coach.  It was past time for them to get a full-time person like most other NBA teams.  Since we are trying to run a $10 million a year business here at Bigger Faster Stronger, it was impossible for us to consider the position.  We had a great 16-year association with a class organization and some great, dedicated athletes.  We shall always be grateful.  Go Jazz!


Dr. Greg Shepard started with the Jazz in 1981.  He was watching a sports show and head basketball coach, Tom Nissalke, was complaining about how few rebounds his big people were getting for the Jazz.  He threw a pillow at the TV and yelled, "You dummy.  Why don't you have your big guys lift so they can jump higher, get bigger and fill up the paint with some aggressive muscle."  Then, he thought maybe he was the dummy and that he should tell him in person.  So he did.  He was immediately hired and has been with the Jazz up through the 1997 season.  At that time in 1981, he was the only strength coach in the NBA.  His BFS partner, Bob Rowbotham, was used as a source for flexibility training and his other BFS partner, Greg Shepard, did most of the strength training with the Jazz players in the 1990's and traveled with the team.

ABOUT THE 1996-97

* The Jazz won 64 regular season games, a franchise record.

* The Jazz had the best post-All Star record (31-4) of any NBA team.

* Won the Midwest Division championship for the 4th time since 1984.

* Went to play-offs for the 14th straight season.  The second longest consecutive streak in the NBA.

* The Jazz lead the league in field goal percentage (.504) for the third straight season.

1997 NBA MVP


On one of the Jazz' road trips, I had breakfast with Karl.  I commented on his even more than "monster workouts" and it looked like he was carrying about five to ten pounds more muscle than in the past.  Karl looked at me and said, "Rick, I'm on a mission."  Statements like these led Karl to more clearly focus on winning every play, every minute, every set and every rep.  This man really kept his eye single to the glory of winning a championship.


People always ask me how much Karl can Bench Press.  I give them this dead pan look and say, "About 350 pounds . . . are you impressed?"  They sort of wrinkle their forehead and answer, "Yeah, I guess."  But, you just know they wanted to hear something like 500 pounds.  Then I say, "Karl can Bench 350 and then sprint down to the other basket and Bench 350 again.  Then, sprint all the way back to the other end of the court and do it again.  And, I'd bet my last wad of bubble gum that Karl Malone could stay above 300 pounds with 100 trips up and down the court.  Now are you impressed?"  Every time, I get this big wide grin as they answer in the affirmative.  Perhaps Karl Malone's biggest physical asset is his stamina.  I have never seen anything like it.  Watch him play!  It's amazing to witness a 6-9 260-pound man beating everyone on the transition and score so many easy baskets with a lot of them coming in the 4th quarter.


Karl has never stopped doing what we've asked him to do.  Nobody can appreciate that more than me or our coaching staff.  Work is something Karl Malone has never shied away from and he has reaped some reward for that with his MVP Trophy. 

GREG OSTERTAG-Utah Jazz Center:
"Karl is a crazy man in the weight room.  If you workout with him and try to match him set for set, he will kill you."


On missing only four games"My mother worked from 9-to-5.  I only work two or three hours a day.  I have never felt mentally that I didn't want to play a game.  Sometimes I wish a game was on another day.  Some days I can be down but once the game starts, I get energy from somewhere and I go out and compete.  In this league, you have to do that because guys come at you every night."
On getting his 25,000th point: "I never look over my shoulder because I'm still not satisfied.  When we were in Atlanta, some guy asked me.  'Now that you've gotten 25,000 points and 10,000 rebounds, do you feel like you want to caost for the rest of your career?'  I looked at him and said, 'I don't even coast on my Harley.' I don't know what that word means.  I believe in giving it everything I've got while I'm playing the game.  When I'm done, I don't want to look back and say, 'I did coast that one year.'  I'm not like that."
On progress:  "I want to improve every year, add a little more to my game.  I don't want to be known as a player who just scored . . . I want to be remembered as a well-rounded player who played the forward spot."
On year-round lifting: "Sometimes people think you can just show up when training camp starts and start working out and conditioning in the weight room.  I've always said my workouts in the summer are harder than any practice I've ever had and I try to prepare myself for that.  I'm afraid not to do what I do now because it's been working for so many years.
"In the summertime, I do take time to do things I like to do . . . I have a wife and three kids, I ride Harleys.  I like to go fishing and hunting but I also work out on my own because I think it allows me to be a step ahead of those other guys who don't work out as much."
On, if he were a high school basketball coach would he have his players weight train: "Do fish swim?  Of course I would.  And, I tell you this . . . If they wouldn't lift, they wouldn't play for Karl Malone."
On his teammates: "The guys on this Jazz team mean everything to me.  They've made it a pleasure to go to work every day."

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