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Scott Howard-Cooper

(From left) Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin made the Warriors a must-watch show.
NBA Photos/NBAE via Getty Images

Time can't fade indelible mark Run TMC left on Warriors, NBA

Posted Aug 23 2011 9:07AM

The strange, often-forgotten part of the two-season scoring rampage of Run TMC is that it blew by faster than the offense did. The final tally: 81 wins (and 83 losses), never better than fourth place in the Pacific Division, two playoff rounds and one playoff series victory.

Twenty years later, though, and the magical union is still being celebrated. It stems from the romanticism of a loyal fan base that hasn't had much to cheer about. Some comes in the wake of Chris Mullin's induction into the Hall of Fame earlier this month, something that brought Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond to Springfield, Mass., for their friend's induction. And some is simply because the Warriors are planning to retire Mullin's No. 17.

But it is so much more. It was a greater rush than anyone could have imagined at the time, as the 1980s turned into the '90s. This is nothing less than a grouping that, at least in memory, has lasted basketball generations.

That's not a bad legacy: two seasons enough to carry decades.

Run TMC had no business working out this well. They came from across the country and wasted no time. They quickly grew close and wore out scoreboards as the stars of coach Don Nelson's fast-break offense in Golden State.

Mullin was waiting, a Warrior since 1985, New York City to the core and just getting his life back as a recovering alcoholic. Richmond joined in '88 as the fifth choice in the Draft, from south Florida, Moberly Area Junior College in Missouri and finally, Kansas State. Hardaway arrived a year later -- a Chicagoan who went to Texas El Paso -- with the 14th selection.

"Once we got on the court, we clicked for sure," Mullin said. "For me, that was when I just got my game together, I got my life together. It was like these two new, young, energetic (players were) just what I needed. And they were so good. They were such great players. They made the game easy for me. They had a lot of skills that I didn't have and the things that I was able to do kind of offset some of their limitations. You talk about two incredible players.

"I fit in. Tim had the ball, Mitch had more talent. It was the perfect balance. Tim ... had that ability to just blow by people and collapse everything and make plays. I reaped a lot of benefits from both of those guys."

Tim, Mitch and Chris -- TMC, a play on the influential hip-hop group Run DMC -- were an immediate attraction. The 1989-90 Warriors went 37-45, fifth in the Pacific, but led the league in scoring.

The second season, 1990-91, Golden State improved to 44-38, its best record in nine years. The Warriors sold out every home game and upset the Spurs in the opening round before losing to the Lakers in the West semis. The Warriors were No. 2 in offense at 116.6 points a game as Mullin finished eighth in scoring, Richmond 10th and Hardaway 11th. They were the league's most-potent trio.

It unexpectedly ended there. Richmond was traded to the Kings, along with Les Jepsen, for rookie Billy Owens on Nov. 1, 1991. After making that trade, the Warriors didn't get out of the first round again until 2007.

"I think we all were competitive and, honestly, I think it helped all of us because we were competitive with each other," Richmond said. "It made us push each other. I knew it was kind of a unique thing because after practices Nellie would have to tell us to go home and get off the court. We would be still playing and running up and down, doing something, playing one-on-one. It was such a competitive atmosphere, but it was a fun atmosphere. It was the best time I had."

Even with just two seasons. Even with 20 years to think about it.

Especially with 20 years to think about it.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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