On the weekend of Mullin’s enshrinement, Run TMC reunited Friday afternoon at center court at the Hall of Fame with NBA TV’s Ahmad Rashad to talk about their time together and the lasting impact they have had on each other’s careers.
Before the lights went on and the cameras started rolling, Hardaway, Richmond and Mullin sat in their chairs rehashing old memories and laughing about their experiences in their short stint together in the Bay Area. Nineteen years have passed, but the three haven’t skipped a beat.
It’s fitting that their reunion centered around Mullin’s enshrinement weekend, seeing as he was the first cornerstone in the Warriors’ high-powered offense.
Mullin was taken in the first round by the Warriors in the 1985 NBA Draft, after he had completed a stellar career at St. John’s University where he was named Big East Player of the Year an unprecedented three times and led the Johnnies back to the Final Four.
But for Mullin, the transition from college to the NBA was challenging. A native of Brooklyn, he had spent his entire life in New York City. So when it came time to move to San Francisco, it was a tough adjustment for him to make.
During his first few seasons in the league, Mullin’s once renowned work ethic had faded, and before the start of the 1988-89 season, new head coach Don Nelson advised Mullin to seek alcohol rehabilitation.
“It took me a while to figure it out,” says Mullin, referring to his transition to the NBA.
But within the next two seasons, the Warriors would retool their backcourt by using their 1988 and 1989 first-round picks on Richmond and Hardaway, respectively.
In 1988, Richmond became the team’s starting shooting guard and recorded one of the best rookie campaigns in NBA history. That season, he would average 22.0 points per game on his way to Rookie of the Year honors. He was second on the team in scoring, behind a rejuvenated Mullin, who averaged 26.5 points a contest.
Still, Golden State was lacking at the point guard position. In 1989, they drafted Hardaway out of UTEP with the 14th overall pick.
“When we got together, that’s when my career took off,” says Mullin.
“I got there and I was in awe,” says Hardaway. “[Chris and Mitch] played the right way. When I got there, I fit right in.”
Nelson was willing to let Hardaway, Richmond and Mullin avoid using the plays and just run the ball up the floor – that is, only if they played unselfishly.
“Nellie gave us the freedom if we played the right way, as long as we shared the ball,” says Mullin. “We may have had a playbook, but we’re not running them, we’re running you.”
And that they did.
Hardaway proved to be the catalyst. Known for his famous “Killer Crossover,” he could get to the lane and find the open man with his great passing skills.
Richmond and Mullin played to Hardaway’s strengths as a point guard by always moving well without the ball. Richmond was a great open floor player and would fill the lanes, which led to easy buckets. And Mullin always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Hardaway joked that Mullin would grab the rebound and push it up to him, and the next thing he knew Mullin was all the way up the court.