Aug. 11, 2011
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Chris Mullin and Tara VanDerveer -- two basketball and Bay Area legends -- will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Friday. On the surface, the two of them wouldn't seem to have a whole lot in common.
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Mullin was an NBA player, and VanDerveer is a women's college basketball coach at Stanford. That's about as different as basketball gets, some might say.Yet Mullin and VanDerveer share the same view of the game. Hard as it might be to believe, they both might have helped each other get to where they are now -- on the brink of the game of basketball's highest honor.
Turns out, a long time ago, in the late 1980s, Mullin used to go to Stanford and work out with VanDerveer's Cardinal women's team. That's right. Mullin, who was a member of the Warriors at the time, used to go to Stanford -- along with long-time Golden State director of athletic development Mark Grabow -- and scrimmage against the women."I was actually more comfortable at Stanford than I was with the Warriors (early on)," Mullin said recently. "I felt like I fit in there better. Women's team or not."STEINMETZ: Chris Mullin's all-time list
The reason: Because they played the right way at Stanford, and at the time Mullin didn't really feel like the Warriors were doing that. So, VanDerveer gave something to Mullin, which was a reprieve from the downer that was the Warriors at the time. And Mullin gave something to VanDerveer: an up-close look at his work ethic and a technical side of the game in terms of preparation and approach."He played with players on our team," VanDerveer recalled on Thursday, at media availability. "The way it happened was that I called Mark Grabow -- one of the all-time best trainers -- and said: 'I'm interested in learning some new drills.' Mark said: 'I'll be over tomorrow with Chris Mullin.'""He would drop everything. He'd come over, and Chris would do the drills for me and then play with the team. He was awesome. I remember players were very excited he was in the gym playing with them. They were like 'Wow, we're playing with Chris Mullin.'"
And Mullin was more than happy to be at Stanford. It was after Mullin had gotten back from alcohol rehab in late 1987 and early 1988, and he came back to a Warriors team that wasn't winning and wasn't having any fun. Mullin just didn't feel like many of his teammates on that team loved the game as much as he did."It was like digging ditches with that team," Mullin said. "I was like 'Really? It's that bad?'"It was just the opposite at Stanford, and it's a time in his life where Mullin acknowledges he re-found his love of the game.
"I was getting back into shape and I was doubling up on sessions," Mullin said. "Actually, I just ran into (former Stanford star and current USF women's coach) Jennifer (Azzi) and she asked me if I remembered that and I said 'Yeah.' I didn't know this but she said I wouldn't shoot at all. I'd just pass all the time. I said that I didn't remember that part. I guess I was working on my ballhandling and passing, but that (not shooting) I can't remember."They were good to me. All of them. Tara, obviously. It's cool going in with her."