DANVILLE (CBS / AP) — Chris Mullin harbors no hard feelings toward the Golden State Warriors, and the Hall of Famer said he would go back to work for them under the new regime if the fit were right.
He’s not ruling that out, either. Mullin—set to be enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame next Friday night—counts new coach Mark Jackson among his close friends. He worked with assistant general manager Bob Myers when Myers was an agent and Mullin was Golden State’s executive vice president of basketball operations. He was dismissed after the 2008-09 season.
“I’ve spent so much time there. I have so many good feelings about the organization, about the area, about the fans,” Mullin said during a sit down with reporters Friday. “If something came about, yeah. All the time I put in there, I feel like I would do anything to help. They did a lot for me over my career, no question. I do feel a connection. I will always feel it, even when I went to Indiana. I’m a Warrior. That’s who I am. I played 13 years here.”
Mullin would like to be a general manager again one day, too.
For now, the 48-year-old Mullin is busy paring down his Hall speech to the three-minute limit. And that’s a tough task for the former St. John’s star who beat alcoholism during a 16-year NBA career.
Mullin will have between 20 and 30 close friends and family members at the enshrinement ceremony, then he will throw a party for a couple of hundred people next Sunday at a restaurant in Manhattan.
“There have been a lot of people who have guided me along the way, professionally and personally. I don’t really feel it’s an individual accomplishment,” Mullin said. “Each stop along the way, it’s the people, really. That’s what it is.”
Mullin and Jackson, who will be among those supporting Mullin in Springfield, Mass., for next week’s ceremony, go back to their high school days in New York. They still talk regularly.
While Mullin is enjoying his current gig with ESPN, he plans to offer Jackson any input the coach might want as he takes over a franchise that has reached the playoffs only once since 1994.
“Our relationship is way beyond basketball. When you have a connection like that with someone, I don’t care if he was coaching in Timbuktu, of course I’d like to help him in any way I could—to help him succeed,” Mullin said.
Mullin is in the Hall of Fame at last, after quite a wait for the former Dream Teamer and five-time All-Star who still sports that signature crewcut. Several times he had been a finalist only to hear he wasn’t in yet.
These days, Mullin is still as fit as ever, keeping in top shape with hourlong swims four to five days a week, bike rides and occasional basketball scrimmages he insists are just for fun.
At 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds, Mullin never was the most athletic or fastest guy on the floor, but he found a way to make up for it with tremendous skills and a tireless work ethic that gave him the reputation of gym rat. He eventually had a key to the school gym in his Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, then to the Oakland Coliseum during his days with the Warriors. Finally sober and done with a stint in rehab after being encouraged by coach Don Nelson, he would go to the arena and shoot baskets to pass time rather than be tempted by the nightlife.
Mullin took his last drink—make that drinks, he says—on Dec. 13, 1987.
“It didn’t have to be cold,” he said. “It’s still a daily process.”
The way the fans received Mullin when he returned from a 35-day stint in rehab still touches him to this day. They cheered him. Then, he really knew he was doing the right thing by turning his life around. Saving his life.
Mullin finished with 17,911 points in 986 career games.
“The changes I was making in my life, I knew in mind what I wanted to do,” he said. “That response told me, ‘You know what, I’m doing the right thing.’ Coming back from that, I didn’t really think about the basketball part.”
Mullin wasn’t sure there would be such support, that he would be embraced by the fans again. That “positive reinforcement” meant so much and still does. And through all of his years in the business, he still looks back and cherishes the ups and the downs of his career.
“To this day, you see people hanging around 20-25 years and they get that sour, kind of rundown, beat down feeling,” Mullin said. “I feel blessed. I never really got that sour, bitter taste about the game. I still go play for fun sometimes, strictly for fun, camaraderie.”
So, will he wind up with the Warriors again down the road?
“Who knows, we’ll see,” Mullin said. “My feelings are that the change has been wonderful. There are some people I really respect, and I want them to do well. If I could help them, of course I would.”
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