One of my first memories of Mitch Richmond was during my middle school years. Like many young American teenagers, I was a video game fanatic who also happened to fall in love with the game of basketball in 1995 as a 12-year-old. Fast forward a year later, and “NBA Live ’97” was released on all of those classic 16-bit gaming consoles that many of us grew to love back in the ’90s. At the time, I was very aware of the Shaqs, Jordans, and Barkleys of the basketball world, but I had no clue who this guy wearing the number 2 with a Sacramento Kings jersey on the cover of “Live ’97” was. To be totally honest, as a young kid growing up in Georgia, I didn’t even know who the Sacramento Kings were, for that matter. To make things even worse for Mr. Richmond’s case, his Kings teams of the 90s weren’t exactly making weekly appearances on NBC to bask in the warmth of the national television spotlight either.
Despite everything that you’ve just read, there’s glory to Mitch Richmond’s story. Drafted 5th overall in the 1988 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, he was nicknamed “The Rock” because of his overwhelming strength as a guard. He also represented one-third of the Warriors’ famed trio nicknamed “Run-TMC”, which comprised of Tim Hardaway (father of the Knicks’ Tim Hardaway Jr., for all of you youngsters), Mitch, and Chris Mullin. Although he could resort to a more physically aggressive style of play, he would cement his legacy as a player with his deadly accuracy from the perimeter, shooting nearly 40% from beyond the 3-point arc.
To me, Mitch Richmond was one of the greatest shooting guards in the 90’s not named Jordan. Since we’re going to take it there, most people are quick to reference Reggie Miller, Clyde Drexler, or Joe Dumars as the premier two-guards during that era, and they’d have a very legitimate argument, mostly because of their respective teams’ success….but Richmond gave the same output that his NBA contemporaries would, but received far less accolades, perhaps due to his time in Sacramento. One of my favorite Mitch Richmond moments would have to be him winning his first and only NBA championship in 2002 as a Laker, which was in my eyes, the crowning achievement to a brilliant career for him.
Fast forward to August 2014, and Richmond gets inducted into the Basketball Hall 0f Fame. After years of flying under the radar despite his basketball brilliance, his induction gives his career the validation that was needed to secure his place in the company of basketball greats.