Aug. 12, 2011
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- If anyone knows how to practice, prepare and execute a game plan, it's Chris Mullin. And that's exactly how he approached his enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Friday night.Mullin, who played 13 of his 16 NBA seasons with the Warriors, said before the induction that he would keep his speech concise and simple, and that his goal was to give it without getting too emotional. You don't make it into the Hall of Fame without setting goals and achieving them -- and that's exactly what Mullin did during his near six-minute speech.After Mullin thanked his family -- an older sister and three brothers -- and dedicated his honor to his late mother and father, he gave a special mention to his two biggest fans: "The nuns." One of them, Sister Kathryn, turns 90 on Saturday.Mullin was the first of 10 inductees at Symphony Hall, and he took those in attendance on a brief and heartfelt replay of his basketball career. Mullin thanked two of his early coaches -- Jack Alesi and Lou Piccola -- whom he said taught him to play the right way and give him the confidence to "go anywhere in the city and play against anybody at any time."Just like he was as a player, Mullin was steady, straightforward and passionate with his speech. But he made it clear that his college coach, Lou Carnesecca, has been one of the most important people in his life. Mulllin first met Carnesecca at a basketball camp when Mulliin was 12, and it was Carnesecca who presented Mullin on Friday."What I cherish most is our relationship the past 36 years," Mullin said.When Mullin got around to his professional career, the Bay Area took center stage. Mullin made mention of the "wonderful" Al Attles, Warriors legend and ambassador. And he talked of his early years in Golden State and the challenges he faced overcoming alcoholism. Mullin made a point to say early in his speech that he's a New Yorker at heart. "Brooklyn is definitely in the house tonight," he said.But there is no doubt Mullin has a special place in his heart for the Bay, and the Warriors fans who supported him during his difficult time. Mullin still talks about the game he returned after missing more than a month while in rehab and the ovation he got from 15-plus-thousand that night in Oakland."But by the grace of God, I started living one day at a time and it strengthened me personally, professionally, physically and spiritually," Mullin said. "I'm forever grateful to the Bay Area, and today I call it home."Mullin thanked his closest Warriors teammates -- Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway and Rod Higgins. And, yes, Mullin even gave a shout-out to former Warriors coach Don Nelson, whom he had a falling out with at the end of his tenure as Warriors general manager only a few years ago."Who else," Mullin said, "would encourage Manute Bol to shoot 3-point shots. Those were my favorite pro years."Mullin played three seasons near the end of his career for the Indiana Pacers, and it was there he was able to play for "his idol" Larry Bird, who was the head coach and alongside Mark Jackson, who he has known since he was a little kid.At the end, it was time for Mulliin to talk about his family -- his wife, Liz, his three sons and a daughter. And if there was a moment in which Mullin's pre-game strategy seemed in peril, it was then. His voice shook for a moment or two while he delivered what will likely be his signature line, but it was almost imperceptible. Mullin always has been great at camouflaging his weaknesses."You're my Dream Team," Mullin said of them, a reference to the 1992 Olympic Team that is universally acknowledged as the greatest team ever assembled.He took care of the formalities of thanking the Hall of Fame for the honor and NBA commissioner David Stern for allowing him to play in "the greatest league in the world."And with that, Mullin turned to Carnesecca, who was flanking him, and gave him a warm embrace. Mullin then extended his arm to Carnesecca and escorted him down the front steps of the stage. It was Chris Mullin helping Lou Carnesecca, which was fitting.Because it was Carnesecca -- and all the people Mullin mentioned during his speech -- who had helped him become a Hall of Famer.