It was a telephone call that had come a number of times before,
only this time there was something very different about it. For St.
John's former two-time All-American basketball great Chris
Mullin'98CBA, it was the notification that he had been selected for
induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the
capstone honor of a career on and around the hardwood that has
spanned more than three decades.
“I was asleep at home on the West Coast when the call came in, and
it was my wife who actually answered,” he said. “I’d gotten calls
like this in the past, usually telling me that I had come close but
didn’t make it. I liked the message much better this time, and I
definitely went back to sleep with a smile on my face.”
Looking back on what he has accomplished as part of the game he
loves, it’s easy to see that Mullin was entitled to smile. At St.
John’s he was a standout player for legendary Coach Lou
Carnesecca, averaging 19.8 points per game as a senior and
helping to catapult his team into the NCAA Final Four and its first
Number 1 ranking since 1951. For his outstanding play he received
the John R. Wooden Award as the top player in the nation and was
named Player of the Year by both United Press International and the
U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
Moving from St.
John’s to the pros, Mullin was selected by the Golden State
Warriors with the seventh overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft.
During his NBA career, he scored 17,911 points, averaging more than
20 points per game in six-consecutive seasons (1987-93). During his
16-year professional career he was a five-time NBA All-Star, and
twice won a gold medal representing the United States in the
Olympics. Once his playing days were over, he joined the Warriors’
front office staff, and now serves as an NBA in-studio analyst at
St. John’s has always been important to Mullin, so it came as no
surprise when he selected Coach Carnesecca to introduce him at the
Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in August.
“Coach Carnesecca has been in the Hall of Fame since 1992,” noted
Mullin, “and since you need to pick someone to present you who’s
already been inducted, the choice was simple. I’ve known Coach
since I was about 12 years old, and he’s been a huge influence on
my life. There’s no question that he taught me the game of
basketball, but there’s also no question that he taught me many
life lessons along the way. Coach embodies all that I’ve ever
accomplished, and we’re closer now than we ever were. I really love
This will actually be the second time that Mullin will stand before
the crowd in Springfield, MA as he is invited to enter the Hall of
Fame. He was inducted in 2010 as a member of the 1992 Dream Team
that won the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
When I was inducted
last year as part of that team, it was really great,” he said. “To
me, basketball is the ultimate team sport, and when you have
success it’s really about everyone on that team working together.
When we were inducted as a team last year, I didn’t have to speak,
and so I got to enjoy all of the festivities just by being a member
of that legendary team. This year it’s going to be a lot different
being inducted as an individual. I’m going to be thinking about all
of the people who helped me get to where I am today – my family, my
teammates and my coaches, It’s not going to be about what I did,
but about the people who were such an important part of my
Mullin speaks fondly of the St. John’s players who were his
teammates and, together, brought the University into the national
college basketball spotlight during the mid-1980s. He believes that
whether they remained associated with basketball in some way or
took their careers in a different direction, their ultimate success
is a reflection of what they learned as players in one of the most
successful college programs of the era.
"We had some really great players back then,” he recalled, “and
although each has their own individual story and has taken their
own individual journey, they’ve all been successful in what they
wanted to do. Again, I have to say that the common thread was that
we all learned from Coach Carnesecca. He showed us that no matter
what business you get into, if you have really good core values
that you’ve learned along the way, you can adapt and be successful
in almost any situation.
A dedicated St.
John’s fan for as long as he can remember, Mullin is both excited
and proud of the way the team returned to the national college
basketball scene this past season. He believes that Head Coach
Steve Lavin, now preparing to enter his second year at the
helm, is the ideal person to bring the program back to the
greatness that was so characteristic of the years when Mullin was
racing up and down the court in Alumni Hall (now Carnesecca
"Steve Lavin did an outstanding job this past season, and the thing
that really jumps out about him is that he knows how to win. He’s
got a really great winning percentage and has taken several teams
into the NCAA. He’s also got a great personality and special
charisma, which coupled with his basketball knowledge and success
as a coach, makes him an excellent recruiter. Steve has only been
at St. John’s for one year, and he’s already embraced the program’s
traditions of excellence and is well on his way to building on
As he contemplates his upcoming induction into basketball’s most
exclusive club, this outgoing alumnus acknowledges the many special
moments that will be with him as he steps to the podium after what
is certain to be Coach Carnesecca’s memorable introduction of one
of his favorite players and dearest friends.
“I know that I’ll be looking back with lots of different things
going through my mind,” he predicted. “My Olympic experiences will
definitely stand out, because it was humbling to be selected from
among such a talented group of athletes to represent my country.
And I’ll certainly be thinking of all of the great people who have
been on my teams over the years, and of the great coaches who have
made such a difference in my life. I’m at the point in my life now
where the memories of the past assume greater importance, and I can
look back on the people who were with me at various points in my
life and realize how much they’ve done for me. That’s what I’ll be
thinking about on Induction Day.”