Golden State Warriors Legends Chris Mullen and Mitch Richmond had an important announcement to give to the Chase Center fans during the April 7 Warriors game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Dub Nation, we had great news this past weekend,” Mullen said. Warrior legend Tim Hardaway is a member of the Hall of Fame for the Class of 2022.
Hardaway, who was sitting on the field, stood up and waved to him as he received a standing ovation.
It’s been a long time for Hardaway, who has missed the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame five times. All those missed opportunities nearly kept him from answering his phone when he saw Hall calling the week before. He didn’t want to hear the words, “I’m sorry, you didn’t get enough votes” again.
But this time, he got better news. Hardaway, Mullen and Richmond – the core of the famous Run TMC Warriors era that ran from 1989 to 1991 – will be reunited with the Hall of Fame.
“However, every time this goes through my mind I feel suffocated,” Hardaway told ESPN. “We’re a family. We’ve always been a family… We cherish it. Words can’t describe how I feel about the three of us being in the hall for something we’ve only done for two years.”
Run TMC wouldn’t consider itself one of the best trios in NBA history, but it does think it has the potential. If given the opportunity, she could have built on the momentum of her second-round exit at the end of the 1990-91 season and take the next step toward winning the championship.
While Mullen, Richmond, and Hardaway may never know what it could have been, they do know that these two seasons created a legacy that remains a fan favorite today.
“We only played two seasons together,” Mullen told ESPN. “It’s unique, but for us, when we look back, it’s kind of sad. Things happen and we’ve made the most of the best times we’ve had together. For me, this has been the most fun, exciting, lively time. It had so much promise.”
“Many years later, many decades later when we get together, we always think, ‘What if? “
Warriors crafted Mullen, a 6-foot-6 striker, in 1985, having finished the league with a 22-60 record, the worst in the league.
They drafted Richmond, the 6-5 guard, in 1988, and that same year, Don Nelson—who had come to the Warriors two years earlier as the team’s vice president—became general manager and head coach.
The Warriors finally drafted Hardaway, a six-foot-tall guard, in 1989.
“Tim has really turned this franchise into a high-powered, high-energy attacking force,” Mullen said.
As Mullen, Hardaway, and Richmond resurrected Nelson’s fast attacking “Nely Bull”, they quickly became one of the most popular trio in the NBA. To set them apart, a newspaper in the Bay Area held a contest for fans to come up with a title for the trio.
Some of the entries were “The Ultimate Warriors”, “Three-mendius”, “The Dunk-and-go-nuts.” But none of them were right. It was Run TMC that stopped.
The nickname is a reference to the popular hip-hop trio Run DMC, who rose to fame in the 1980s. The name TMC in the trio’s nickname comes from the initials of the players’ first names. The “Run” comes from the fast pace that Nelson first performed in Milwaukee prior to his arrival at the Golden State.
“You have to have great minds to create what you want to do with a team and make it fun and make it where other teams can’t guard it,” Hardaway said. “A lot of people didn’t understand that you can play five players and they can be 6-5 or younger. We were doing that and people just couldn’t keep up.”
The Warriors went 37-45 and missed the playoffs in the 1989-90 season, but led the league in average goalscoring and pace of play, showing characteristics of the style that defined the Run TMC era.
In their first regular-season game the following season, the Warriors scored the highest non-overtime goal-scoring percentage in league history, defeating the Denver Nuggets 162-158. That season, they averaged 116.6 points per game, the second-most in the NBA behind the Nuggets.
Golden State reached the second round of the 1991 playoffs that season but lost in five games to the Lakers, who advanced to the NBA Finals.
The Warriors could feel the franchise-building momentum growing, but that all blatantly stalled in one game in the 1991-92 season. Minutes after their season-opening win over the Nuggets, Richmond was traded for the Sacramento Kings for a rookie rookie. Billy Owens.
Owens was the No. 3 pick in the 1991 draft and his offensive versatility seemed to fit right in with the Nelson system. That, and his 6-8 tire would boost the Warriors’ size—something Nelson was under pressure to improve.
At first, Mullen and Hardaway thought Richmond was joking when he told them he wouldn’t be joining them on the team bus. But it wasn’t. While the team was returning to Oakland, Richmond was heading 90 miles northeast to Sacramento.
“It still hurts me [this] Richmond said [what we had] Being fired, it was the first time I’d been traded, the first time I’d run through a team that didn’t want me, that was a lot. …I wore it in my game. Every time I was in front of the court, I was angry.”
Richmond was always a quiet man and became less talkative after leaving the Golden State. It took years for the bitter taste of Nelson – who had decided to barter – to wash from his mouth.
Richmond blossomed into an all-star in Sacramento, while the Hardaway trio Mullen Owens never thrived. Golden State fought the playoffs twice in the next three years, losing in the first round both times—including the 1993-94 season, which Hardaway missed due to a ruptured ACL.
Hardaway’s Warriors career ended after 422 games when he moved to the Miami Heat in 1996. Mullen left in free agency a little over a year later. It’s no longer the era of Run TMC in Auckland.
because of Commerce, Richmond is usually the focus of the “what if” talks surrounding Run TMC. Although all three players had collective success elsewhere, with Richmond winning a title with the Lakers in 2002, they never stood a chance of winning a championship together—something their contemporary Warriors counterparts have done four times now.
The trio sees the similarities between themselves and Stephen CurryAnd the Draymond Green And the Klay Thompson – They’ll almost certainly follow Hardaway, Richmond, and Mullen into the Hall of Fame when their careers come to an end. And while the current Warriors tournament plays a sophisticated style reminiscent of the Run TMC era, what really connects these two eras is the way each member of each talent trio complements each other.
“It’s nice to love your teammate, to respect your teammate, but when you have that in place and you need your teammate, it takes you to a whole other level,” Mullen said. “Draymond needs a shot from Steph and Klay. Steph and Klay need a pass and Draymond’s defense. Steph needs Klay’s size to guard. When you put it all together, you have the best trio ever.”
For Run TMC, it was Hardaway’s single pass skills combined with Richmond’s motors and Mullin shooting that made it so deadly.
Then there are the similarities between their personalities.
“Draymond is like me,” Hardaway said. “I am the voice. I am the initiator that pushes us forward. Chris and Mitch are like Steve and Clay. … They just go in there and say nothing. Just go in there and do the work.”
This season, the Warriors will wear TMC-inspired jerseys, which Mullen proudly designed during a team promotion event.
In their view, this is an acknowledgment of how Run TMC has shaped the culture across the organization, current warriors and fans who remember the trio.
“It shows they respect what we’ve been doing outside,” Hardaway said. “They were excited to go out to matches to see what we were doing, and we gave them excitement. And that’s what we loved doing.”
In the two seasons together, Run TMC has never come close to the NBA Finals. He lost two more games than he won. Run TMC has won only one playoff series. However, her impact on Golden State basketball can be considered transcendental. Capping Saturday’s tribute to Hardaway, his place among league traditions and on-pitch performances finally propelled all three players into the Hall of Fame.
“The really cool thing about it is when we all walk together and they see the three of us,” Hardaway said. “You should see their faces, their expressions, how they look at us and talk about us, as if you were bad mothers.”