My suitemate said something very interesting on Saturday night, as we watched New York’s own Nate Robinson defeat Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan in the finals of the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.
I had just explained to him how the sports editor position grants me audiences with some very interesting people, recently Chris Mullin – due to last week’s celebration of the 1985 St. John’s basketball team that reached the Final Four, and even Robinson himself.
This turned his attention away from the contest, underwhelming because the names Dwight Howard and LeBron James were not mentioned among the participants, and onto me. “Well,” he said with a chuckle and a roll of the eyes, “I’d much rather meet Nate Robinson than Chris Mullin.”
Admittedly, my suitemate isn’t one to understand much about college basketball history, nor NBA history for that matter. Mullin, the star of the 1985 St. John’s team that reached the Final Four, was also on the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, the same one that featured Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon and Larry Bird and every other conceivable basketball superstar of the early 1990s. He even won Olympic gold as a member of the 1984 Amateur Olympic team with teammate Bill Wennington.
Surely, Mullin would be a pretty interesting person to talk to, considering he was named as a finalist last week for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on two tickets, as a player and as a member of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team.
It’s a given that the Dream Team will be inducted. That team dominated every game it played and there was no question they’d take home gold. But what about Mullin the player?
In the NBA, Mullin was an All Star in five straight seasons from 1989-1993, averaged over 20 points in six consecutive seasons and reached the playoffs eight times in his 16-year career. He played in at least 70 games seven times and started all 82 games four times.
Mullin’s numbers have all the makings of a solid but not Hall of Fame-worthy NBA career. The Naismith Hall of Fame’s criteria, however, are different from that of the baseball or football hall of fames. Naismith Finalists have their entire body of work – from high school right through the NBA- studied and deliberated over. Since that’s the case, Mullin should easily reach the Hall of Fame on his accomplishments at St. John’s.
Mullin averaged over 15 points per game and shot over 50 percent from the field in each of his four seasons as a member of the Redmen. He was a 1981 McDonalds All American at Xaverian High School in Brookyln and earned second team All America honors in 1983-84 and first team honors in 1984-85. He is also one of two players who have won the Haggerty Award – which commemorates the best college player in New York City – three times in their college careers, and he won the Wooden Award and was named USBWA College Player of the Year award in 1985.
Mullin is also St. John’s all-time leading scorer, and won three Big East Player of the Year awards while competing against Patrick Ewing of Georgetown.
I understand the Karl Malone was named to 14 All Star games, and that Scottie Pippen was a part of six NBA championship teams, and that Cheryl Swoopes helped the Houston Comets win four WNBA titles. They’re all shoo-ins, unquestioned first-ballot Hall of Famers.
But Mullin was the face of basketball in New York City in the early 1980s, and his accolades and achievements rank him as one of the best players in Big East history, as well as one of the greatest to put on the St. John’s uniform.
What better honor than for Mullin to be inducted to the Hall of Fame upon the 25th anniversary of the 1985 Final Four team? It would be a celebration difficult for anyone in the St. John’s community to ignore.
Maybe then my suitemate will take notice.