Warriors.com (DotCom): What is taking up your time these days?
Jeff Mullins (JM): I’d say I’m semi-retired now. I still manage some real estate properties and I’m always looking to buy and sell something. As you know, the last couple years haven’t been the best time to do that so I’ve slowed down a little bit. My wife and I like to travel a little bit. We both love tennis so we play a lot of tennis in our spare time.
DotCom: Do you still keep in touch with the game?
JM: I still enjoy watching both pro basketball and the college basketball. As you said, this is a hotbed for college basketball and it seems like my alma matter Duke is always on top or near the top. It’s fun to watch whether I’m in Florida or North Carolina. I try to stay close and pay attention to the scores … I still think playoff basketball is one of the great sport competitions and I enjoy watching it.
DotCom: What are some of your fondest playoff memories?
JM: Of course ’75 and winning the championship has to rank the highest. My first year in San Francisco, the year that Rick led the NBA in scoring, we were all kind of new to each other and we played that great Philly team and lost in six. Those two years really stand out … One of the problems we faced was that we always seemed to make the playoffs but you either had to beat Milwaukee with Kareem and Oscar or the Lakers with Wilt, Jerry, Elgin and that group so we always had our hands full, but they were always very competitive.
DotCom: Who are some of your favorite teammates from your Warriors career?
JM: I’m still good friends with Al, Rick and Nate. They were the guys who were there when I arrived when Bill Sharman made the trade for me to come to San Francisco. … I’m so excited about the new ownership and bringing Jerry West on board. I think the Warriors lost that culture of winning and that comes with having veteran players and really good citizens. That’s what Al, Nate Thurmond and Rick Barry brought to the team. Everybody wanted to win and when you have that culture, it’s a lot of fun so I think of those guys right away.
DotCom: Do you have a favorite story or two from your playing days with the Warriors?
JM: It’s not really a story, but the one thing I always tell about the old days is that when we started out in San Francisco, there were only two teams on the West Coast. So every time we had a road trip, we were gone usually for about 10 days … So every time I hear players today talk about “Well, we probably won’t win because it’s back-to-back games,” I think how crazy the old days used to be with the travel, particularly for the West Coast teams because we were always going east to play games.
… That brings up a funny story and it’s a great testimony to Franklin Mieuli. The first year I was in San Francisco, Bill Sharman was our coach and we had a real bad road trip. I think we lost four out of five. We were coming back to play one of our home games in Fresno and of course Franklin (Mieuli) was such a super guy, I think in his mind he said, “What these guys needed was to see their wives.” So we get off the plane in Fresno and there are all the wives there, smiling and laughing, and I look at Bill Sharman and he had a look on his face like he wanted to put us in purgatory and here is the owner bringing all the wives down to cheer everybody up. It was a very funny time. Bill had to bite his lip and we ended up winning that game so we kind of redeemed ourselves I guess.
DotCom: Can you contrast some of the coaches you played for?
JM: I always have a soft spot for Bill Sharman because he’s the guy who kind of reinvented my career. I had a tough year and a half in St. Louis and when I got there, he said, “Jeff, I want you to play just like you did in college …” Very quickly, everything fell into place so I have a special place for Bill. He was a very intense coach and I think he is the one guy who initiated the morning shootaround. He really believed in that and now of course every college and pro (teams), most all of them do that.
And Al Attles is the perfect gentleman, just a terrific guy. Very open to ideas and suggestions. He treated everybody the same way, had the respect of everybody. You just can’t find a finer gentleman in the NBA than Al Attles. He was a joy to play for and play with, actually.
DotCom: What was harder for you, playing in an intense playoff game or coaching in a NCAA Tournament game?
JM: I think playing is easier actually. You have butterflies before both but once the ball goes up as a player, you forget about it. As a coach, it’s pretty tense all the way through.