There will never be another player quite like Chris Mullin, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend. He played during an era where on-the-court intangibles were still valued more than impressive vertical leaps and fast 40-yard times. Mullin was from the neighborhood and he learned the neighborhood way. Which was: Just go out and find the best game and play until the court is closed for the night.
He wasn't the most conditioned athlete, wasn't the most gifted guy but he could shoot better than anybody else on the floor and he could see the game a second before everybody else. He had incredibly fast hands and was an outstanding passer. Did he play great defense? No. Did he play good defense? No, especially in the NBA. But Mully was a guy who could beat you so many different ways. A quick dish inside to a surprised teammate, a flick of the wrist runner off the glass, a sudden strip of the ball or a long bomb.
That lefty stroke. Sweetest thing you'll ever see.
Mullin played at St. John's right before the three-point line appeared and that probably cost him a couple thousand collegiate career points. He was deadly from outside, maybe the purest shooter ever from New York. He'd go on to make two Olympic Dream Teams, he'd conquer his battle with alcohol and he'd become a respected executive after his career ended. He'd also learn to speak with clarity. Mullin was a classic "'dems and dose" guy from Brooklyn, but he's actually become an insightful, articulate analyst for ESPN. The word "articulate" and Chris Mullin never went hand in hand before he left New York for the Golden State Warriors in 1985.
I always thought it odd that Mullin didn't play for the New York Knicks. It seemed like a perfect match: Local guy electrifies Madison Square Garden, leads the hometown Knickerbockers to their first NBA title since the early 1970s. But maybe Chris Mullin needed the Golden State experience. Maybe if he had stayed in New York, he would have always remained the neighborhood guy. Out there in California, Mullin became a man, a more well-rounded man and ultimately somebody we'll never meet again.
Here's a look at the great Chris Mullin and his career.