Relaxing with a cigar has been a ritual for Karl for a long time – both in retirement and while celebrating a big win during his days on the court. It was a personal dream to have his own cigar and Karl searched long and hard for a partner who could collaborate on a high-quality cigar with him. While on a trip to the Dominican Republic, Karl was introduced to the La Aurora brand of cigars. He spent time at the La Aurora factories and in the fields learning about tobacco and the careful craftsmanship that goes into cigar making. Karl and La Aurora’s owner, Guillermo León Herbert, connected on a love of the Dominican Republic, cigars, rum, and shared values. Together they curated a special cigar for Karl using tobacco aged in rum barrels and established “Barrel Aged by Karl Malone”.
While he was collaborating with La Aurora on his personal cigar, it became clear that Karl wanted to create a place in his hometown where he and his friends and family could enjoy a smoke and fellowship. That eventually led them to open Legends Cigar and Vape in Ruston, Louisiana, where the family resides. Building the cigar lounge took three years, and provided an opportunity for his daughter, Kadee, to lead the construction and design effort.
Kadee’s vision was to create a rustic lounge with a spacious, yet cozy atmosphere that had plenty of places to smoke and talk. She incorporated sports memorabilia and family photos from Karl’s career in basketball and also of the talented family’s various sports accolades. The shop also celebrates the great state of Louisiana and their beloved hometown of Ruston. As a result of her input and the focused efforts Kadee made through the lounge design and development process, Karl trusted Kadee to take the lead and was ready to hand her the keys. Karl said, “I called her one morning and had her come to the store. I just said ‘Congratulations, you’re the owner.’” Since then, Kadee has been the driving force behind expanding Legends’ offerings – from cigars to vape, cigar related products, and now CBD.
Since the store’s opening, Legends has found tremendous success, grown in membership, and been a hot spot for private events and parties. Karl has continued his partnership with La Aurora to import and distribute a delicious Dominican rum, called E. Leon Jimenes, throughout the US. Karl and Kadee are excited about the future and the expansion of the Legends lounge and portfolio of brands. At the heart of it all is the Malone family, their passion for cigars, and the love and connection to their community.