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.