There was a time, albeit a long time ago, when Chris Mullin couldn’t run nor jump.
Or at least, not very well.
“I probably should’ve picked another sport,” Mullin, now 48, confessed of his childhood playing days.
He didn’t. Basketball, bluntly put, was something Mullin really loved to do.
And now, only after a 16-year playing career in the NBA, 13 of which he spent as a member of the Warriors, the boy from Brooklyn can finally stop running — and jumping.
Just seven months after being inducted into basketball’s most coveted shrine, the Hall of Fame, Mullin on Monday night will again see his sporting legacy secured when his No. 17 Warriors jersey will be retired and raised toward the rafters in Oracle Arena.
“It’s always emotional when you look back on your life, and all the people that have influenced my life,” Mullin said, mentally sifting through all of the friendships spawned by way of the basketball court. “When it’s said and done, you take those friendships for life. And I’ve got some dear friends that will be there that evening.”
But looking back, as Mullin can testify, ain’t always easy.
It wasn’t that long ago when the Warriors, after five seasons as Golden State’s executive vice president of basketball operations, showed Mullin the door in 2009.
“It probably wasn’t the greatest exit strategy,” he said. “But the healing process begins the next day. Does it take time? Of course. For me, the way I live my life, it’s really important for me to never hold grudges.”
Mullin recently caught the men’s basketball Big East Conference tournament on TV, which marked the 30th year of the contest being housed at Madison Square Garden.
“That’stesting my memory,” Mullin chuckled. “I said, ‘I think we played in the first one.’”
After making a few phone calls to his St. John’s teammates, he correctly confirmed his suspicions. It was 1983 when Mullin was a sophomore and led St. John’s to the tourney title and was named MVP.
“I reminisce, but I don’t remember much. It’s been too long,” he said.
But some things are easier than others to remember. The other co-stars of the Warriors’ “Run TMC” — Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond, for instance — don’t take much smarts to recall. And the influences of his family and former general manager Al Attles, too, still aren’t lost on him.
“I had the passion, I had some God-given ability, no question about that,” Mullin said. “There was always people to guide me. I was lucky.”
Perhaps Mullin was lucky. But luck alone doesn’t win two Olympic gold medals, nor does it take one to the NBA Finals, as he did late in his career with the Indiana Pacers. And it sure doesn’t guarantee that long after a player hangs ’em up, that his jersey, too, will be retired.