The Petersen Perspective: Chris Mullin
The Petersen Perspective: Chris Mullin
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Throughout NBA history, fans have identified players by their abilities on the court and their unique physical characteristics that have become part of the league’s culture. The 80s and 90s were chock-full of colorful stars with Jordan’s trademark tongue, Nique’s flattop, Magic’s smile, and Bird’s stache just to name a few. This year’s Hall of Fame class will feature a diverse group, including a man with a famous buzz cut -- a hair style that has stood the test the time -- over 23 years to be exact. Former Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Chris Mullin enters the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, buzz cut and all.
"When I see those old pictures of Chris with hair when he was at St. John's and when he first came to Golden State, I don't even know who that guy is. It's the buzz cut and he still wears it to this day," Wolves TV analyst and Lynx assistant coach Jim Petersen laughed when thinking about his former teammate and good friend.
Petersen spent three seasons with the Warriors next to the five-time All-Star out of Brooklyn, New York. Beyond the superficial statements on his look or basketball expertise, a true understanding of Mullin as a person comes to life when speaking to Petersen about his time in Oakland.
"I told this to Chris when he made it into the Hall of Fame, I texted him and said, you are the greatest teammate I've ever had," a glowing Petersen stated. "He was always there for you as a teammate. The way he talked to you, the way he cared about everybody, the way he cared about the maintenance crew -- he knew everybody's name. That's just how he rolls, there is no person that was too big and no person that was too small for him to care about and know. And, that's why Chris Mullin, for me was the best teammate I've ever had."
One year prior to Petersen and Mullin teaming up in Golden State, Mullin underwent treatment for alcoholism in 1988. Mullin reversed the direction down a dangerous path and behind unparalleled work ethic, the left-hander emerged as the star the Warriors envisioned when they selected him seventh overall in the 1985 NBA Draft.
"His approach to the game, he was always the first one to practice, always the last one to leave. Every day you could not outwork Chris Mullin, you were never going to, he wasn't going to let you do it," Petersen described.
The blood, sweat, and tears certainly paid off when examining Mullin's remarkable list of accolades. Among the five All-Star selections mentioned, Mullin earned two gold medals, one with arguably the greatest team ever assembled in sports -- the 1992 Dream Team. Additionally, he amassed 17,911 points in an extremely successful 16-year career.
As seen in Game 2 of the 1991 Western Conference Semifinals, Mullin was a deadly shooter with range all over the floor. The Warriors guard / forward racked up 41 points to lead Golden State in a shocking road playoff victory in Los Angeles at the Great Western Forum. Remember, this was a Lakers squad that reached the Finals with Magic Johnson at the helm, James Worthy and Byron Scott all searching to rejuvenate their dynastic run from the 80s.
"He [Chris] and Magic were going back and forth. You know, Chris had sprained his knee earlier in the San Antonio series on a play. For Chris to have that kind of game at the Forum in LA against Magic -- to put up 40 on a sprained knee was super human to me," Petersen remembered.
A gifted scorer, Mullin did not need out of this world athletic talent to average 25 or more points for five consecutive seasons. He relied on superior basketball intelligence, craftiness around the rim, and above all, a pure jumper from the perimeter.
"When you watch these games on NBATV, when you see the old games being played, watch his form with that lefty jumper, how he got into that position every single time," Petersen explained. "He's like a machine, literally, his shot technique does not deviate and that's why he is one of the greatest shooters of all-time." And, who can forget the famous trio that was formed in Golden State under head coach Don Nelson. Run T.M.C. featured Mullin, Tim Hardaway at point guard, and shooting guard Mitch Richmond. The prolific group ran a fast-pace, high-scoring attack, helping the Warriors jump back into the playoff landscape.
"It was the most fun I've ever had playing basketball," Petersen said. "The way we ran up and down the floor, watching Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin perform and being a part of that was so much fun. Chris was the unabashed leader but the great thing about Chris, it was never about Chris. For Chris, it was about the game and it was about the team."
Petersen is one of many teammates, family members, and friends that will fondly recollect Mullin memories as he joins an elite group of legends in the Basketball Hall of Fame. After hearing Petersen's heartfelt words regarding his former teammate and good friend, it's easy to see Mullin is more than just a trademark buzz cut.
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