“When God made a basketball player, he just carved Chris Mullin out and said ‘this is a player.'” – Magic Johnson
What the Warriors may lack in championships, all-time great shooters happens to be something the franchise and fan base are quite familiar with. Before Steph Curry made Oracle Arena his own personal madhouse, Chris Mullin stood as one of the league’s finest marksmen (his teammate Mitch Richmond falls in the same category).* The 1985 National Player of the Year at St. John’s turns a half-century young today. And despite his shooting prowess going down as his most legendary trait, his game was more than pick-and-pop.
He went toe-to-toe with the likes of Magic and Jordan in vastly underrated shootouts in 1991. Like Larry Bird, in a manner of speaking, Mully was never confused for the most athletically-gifted player on the court, but buddy understood how to play the game of basketball and did so at a high level for the better part of 16 seasons.
Then there’s the undervalued aspect of his game. In countless debates I’ve heard over the years, the claim “Chris Mullin shouldn’t have had any parts of being a member of The Dream Team” has been thrown around more times than the $200 date spectacle on Twitter. It represents, by far, one of the dumbest basketball statements in recorded history and goes to show how perception of players can determine a career and occasionally a generation.
Mullin more than earned a spot on that ’92 team. From the season directly following the 1988 Olympics (’88-’89) until the season directly before the 1992 Games (’91-’92), Mully missed only five regular season contests while putting up four consecutive seasons of 25+ points on at least 51% shooting from the field, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and nothing worse than 83% from the charity stripe. The only other Dream Team member to put up those numbers? Jordan. And also keep in mind he was the third leading scorer that summer with 14.3 points a game while shooting 63% from the field and 50% from three, one spot ahead of Mike (12.7) and only behind Barkley (16.3) and Malone (14.8).
Enough of a self-induced rant however. Chris Mullin was one hell of a basketball player,** and if that’s still up for debate, then I’m the the godfather of both William and Kate and Kanye and Kim’s babies. One time for the “C” in “Run TMC.” Here’s to another 50.
* – And before Mullin, there was Rick Barry. One of the best players ever, but boy did he ever have baggage and teammates who weren’t too fond of him. Peep one of his more underrated racial line-pushing moments, the Michael Jordan sideways Chinese slanted eye dunk during the 1988 Dunk Contest. And while we’re here, the always classic Bill Russell “watermelon grin” shot on television during the second half of Game 5 of the 1981 Finals.
** – He’s actually gotten a lot better at calling games and being an in-studio analyst, too.