An evening with St. John’s Basketball” and three-time NBA champ Bill Wennington

Chris Mullin, Joe Tartamella, and St. John's alum and 3X NBA Champion Bill Wennington (Photo: Athletic Communications)

Chris Mullin, Joe Tartamella, and St. John's alum and 3X NBA Champion Bill Wennington (Photo: Athletic Communications)

On a very delightful evening with the St. John’s basketball teams, the Office of Athletic Development hosted the annual basketball team’s fundraising event on Thursday, Oct. 15.

It was a successful turnout as many Red Storm supporters, alumni and staff gathered together on the first floor of the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan and helped raised $250,000 for the men’s and women’s basketball programs.

Head coaches Chris Mullin and Joe Tartamella gathered together along with special guest Bill Wennington to help celebrate the start of the 2015-16 basketball season.

WFAN’s 101.9 Radio Host Craig Carton served as the master of ceremony and panelist for the basketball discussions.

Before the evening commenced, Carton shared his thoughts with me on the upcoming men’s basketball season.

“I like the fact that nobody’s picking them to do anything,” said Carton. “I saw on the paper that they were picked dead last and that’s good because it’s a new program and [Mullin] is going to redevelop basketball here and everyone knows that doesn’t happen immediately.

“So, the fact that there [are] no expectations from these so-called experts [means] you can only overachieve. I like where they are at.

“I follow their recruiting draft class. He’s a hall of famer and a New Yorker so it may take a year or two, but I think everyone will be very very happy with the program under [Mullin’s] watch.”

As the night began, both coaches reflected on their team’s upcoming season. Attendees also had a special treat when Carton held a panel discussion on former St. John’s teammates Mullin and Wennington.

They spoke about the program’s tradition, as well as playing in the NBA.

After an enjoyable evening, St. John’s President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw and Mullin presented Wennington with a commemorative No. 23 jersey.

I also had the opportunity to speak with the former St. John’s center about how St. John’s legendary Lou Carnesecca positively impacted his life.

“Well, coach Lou Carnesecca has been a second father to me,” said Wennington. “He really taught me a lot about being a man, about being respectful, holding true to myself and my word. One of the things he tells me about is honesty.

“If you say something, you do it. If you don’t want to do it, don’t say you’ll do it. And, simple things in life, especially today, you take it for granted, but they really are the foundation of maturity and I hold that very near [and] dear my heart.”

After a stellar four-year collegiate career (1981-85) with the then called “Redmen” under Carnesecca and being part of the 1985 St. John’s Final Four team, the 7’0 center went on to play 13 years in the NBA and was part of three Chicago Bulls Championship teams (1996-98), playing alongside with arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time, Michael Jordan.

“Playing with Michael Jordan was a lot like playing with Chris Mullin ‘cause both of them demanded excellence and they expected you to put 100 percent effort on the floor every night,” Wennington said.

“I was fortunate enough to play with Chris, be under his tutelage and understand how hard you had to work; and, when I came in playing with Michael, I understood that.

“So, he [Jordan] and I got along well because he understood I was working hard and I was doing what I needed to do.

“But, if you like winning, playing with guys like Chris Mullin and Michael Jordan, that’s where you want to be.”