Hall of Fame Debate: Mitch Richmond

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HANG TIME WEST – This is the month that potentially changes the future for Mitch Richmond, starting early next week and then to the April 18-19 debate that would be historic not only for Richmond, but the entire league.

Richmond is a minority investor in the attempt to keep the Kings in Sacramento, and that group will be in New York on Wednesday along with leaders of the Seattle bid for the Kings for presentations to league executives as the showdown intensifies in advance of the April 18-19 Board of Governors vote. Richmond is a finalist for the Hall of Fame, and the Class of 2013 will be announced next Monday in Atlanta as part of the Final Four.

Two cities, two historic votes, two very uncertain outcomes for Richmond. One legacy possibly being altered.

Richmond has remained close to the NBA since retiring after 2001-02, working under close friend and former teammate Chris Mullin in basketball operations in Golden State when Mullin ran personnel and staying visible at other league functions. Making the Hall of Fame, though, is a different level of visible. Making the Hall of Fame the same month he could become an owner, however small the stake, and perhaps joining the front office turns this into his potential forever April.

Several portions of his resume will be touted: star at Kansas State, Olympian in 1988 (bronze) and 1996 (gold), Rookie of the Year in 1988-89, a career average of 21 points a game over 14 seasons with three-point range and a post game, cornerstone of the Run TMC fun bench of the Warriors, three-time selection as second-team All-NBA, small role in the Lakers’ 2002 championship. That is the platform of a strong candidate.

But nothing boosts his chances, and makes Richmond a unique finalist, like being picked for six All-Star games, because he wasn’t just being picked for six All-Star games. He was being picked while playing for the bottom-feeding Kings of the 1990s by coaches who would not have rewarded good numbers on a bad team year after year if they didn’t rate him along the elite. Top that as an endorsement.

Richmond was one of the better guards for an NBA generation that included Michael Jordan, John Stockton and Gary Payton, the leading candidate for enshrinement this year. The people who coached against Richmond, and routinely beat Richmond’s team, kept choosing him as an All-Star when it would have been easy to say players from good clubs were more deserving. Not many have been able to make that part of candidacy.

The other finalists from the North American commitee that handles most candidates with an NBA background are Maurice Cheeks, Tim Hardaway (another initial member of Run TMC with Mullin), Spencer Haywood, Tom Heinsohn (already in as a player, now up as a coach), Bernard King, Rick Pitino and Jerry Tarkanian.

14 Comments

  1. Brian says:

    If Mitch Richmond gets in so should Robert Horry. I love mitch, but i really think they should both be in the discussion here.

    I would take Clutch any day!!! My argument is the opposite of above. Richmond was never on star teams. Horry was always a key player on big teams and helped his teams to improbe. Horry is one of the most iconic players of our times. Hits big shots, has no ego, Plays D, gets defensive rebounds and wins. (also, many players have stated he’s one of the best players he’s played with, such as kobe bryant, who you can ask if you don’t believe me)

    Olajuwon, Drexler, T. parker, duncan, Shaq, and Kobe would all view him as honorable of this. Hes a guy who makes everyone around him little better.

    Again winning championships is about executing to get stops, defensive rebounds, and hitting shots. There’s a reason why he gets rings, He’s a hall of famer.

    • Kevin says:

      I wonder how many people arguing against Richmond’s case actually watched him play. First of all, his career totals completely justify his inclusion into the hall of fame. Not only was he a top 10 scorer for 10+ years of his career he was also an outstanding defender at the 2 guard spot. What I think most people aren’t recognizing here is that the guy was literally double and triple teamed all night and he was still able to put up insanely efficient numbers night in and night out. I don’t think anyone questions Robert Horry’s ability to be a sound role player, but the man was consistently sitting the corner waiting for wide open shots time after time. I believe Steve Kerr has 5 rings and he too was clutch at hitting big shots (at times). Does he warrant inclusion. No of course not.

      Put it in terms that are much easier to understand. If you were to form a pick up game against the best all-stars in the league in the mid 90′s through the 2000s, with Jordan as a captain and Barley/Olajuwon/Stockton/Malone as the other captain, do you think Richmond goes unpicked?

      It would have been amazing to see Richmond play on a team like the Knicks or the Heat or the Spurs. Unfortunately the What If is one that will remain unanswered.

  2. Wao says:

    @MichaelP
    I guess you never saw Mitch playing… he was a star and deserves to be in the HOF. Number don’t lie. How come Horry was better than the ROCK? really??… he was a supporting player able to make big shots in big time, because of the attention al l others super stars got in key moments ( Olajuown, Kobe, Shaq, Duncan) all where in the Horry teams where he made all of his famous shots. Other than that he was a pretty average player.
    Iverson is a different story,.. besides all his drama as a player and bad attitued, Dude could ball all day long. was a scoring machine in Georgetown and Philly. Good career but not sure if enough for a HOF ( he rubbed the media the wrong side… remember ,they were talking about practice…) ….
    The Rock was a Gold medalist b4 been in the NBA. Then was again in the NBA. ROY award. Good decent numbers in an era where the NBA was more physical and could limit the numbers of games played. Do I need to continue??

  3. Ro says:

    If memory serves me correctly, MJ said Mitch was tough for MJ to defend. Dumars and Gerald Wilkins were tough defenders on MJ, not tough for MJ to defend….
    Anyway, also an Aussie growing up in the 90′s, remembering Mitch on NBA action and how he was considered the 2nd best SG in the league. I’d have to say he’s worthy and the timing is fine, he’s been retired for a decade. The guy had some pretty solid numbers too, some of his ability was not seen by many as he was on terrible Kings teams for years. If he played in a big market or had more team success, this wouldnt even be up for debate.

  4. Jonesy37 says:

    Actually from memory MJ said that Richmond was the toughest DEFENDER he ever matched up against (sorry for the caps – couldn’t italicise). Only endorses his HoF credentials more. Mitch was putting these numbers up at GSW before he went to Sacramento, so they aren’t blown out by paying on a weak team. One of my all time favourites – please please please put the Rock and the UTEP 2-step in on the same day.

  5. Richmond was a legend back in the 90´s, he deserves a Hall of Fame spot no doubt about it!

  6. AussieTom says:

    I am from Australia and MJ is the best but my all time fav player is THE ROCK he deserves this accolade. Growing up in Aus we didn’t get to see much of the NBA but i always remember seeing highlights of Richmond on NBA ACTION, He also won Allstar MVP while playing amonst the elite and playing the season with a sub par team as mentioned. If he went to a better team or GSW kept Run TMC he would have been even better. GO THE ROCK

    • Jonesy37 says:

      I remember NBA Action as well! We Aussies got it for half an hour then a half hour replay package of TNT’s game of the week on a Saturday arvo in the early 90′s! Oh how I love the internet and pay TV in the 2000′s…

    • Jonesy37 says:

      PS and yes – Run TMC were gods – Jordan=1, Magic=1, Bird=1, Run TMC=3. Easy maths for a young fella watching an hour of NBA a week.

  7. Michaelp says:

    With due respect to Mitch, it’s too early to be bestowed with the ultimate award – hall of fame. I believe that with Mullins and Richmond in the hall of fame, any basketball player could be installed in the hall of fame. Being in the hall of fame is an ultimate award given to a player who is considered a trailblazer or made an impact for the game of basketball. Enshrining Mitch Richmond, with due respect, will open the floodgates to relatively good players from being in the hall of fame. Iverson or Robert Horry is far more better player than Richmond. I plead that they should better be enshrined as well.

  8. Jeff says:

    yep MJ considered Richmond similar to him in size and strength and a hard person to guard. Jordan also rated Gerald wilkins and joe dumars as well as tough nights for him. Ive always like Richmond, sad that he was stuck on sub par teams a lot, its a shame the warriors didn’t keep the Run TMC going for a while longer. If Jordan hadn’t been around, Mitch would be seen in even higher esteem

  9. TheDishFromMitchRichmond says:

    For 6/7 years, only Jordan kept him from being the best 2 Guard in the NBA – a role he took from Drexler/Dumars (both HoF). A better player than Reggie Miller… and he’s already found his spot there.

    One of the best of a generation. Thanks for the memories Rock!

  10. Sea Pea says:

    Jordan said Mitch Richmond was the hardest player that he ever had to guard. That endorsment should get the Rock in all by itself.