Matt Steinmetz, March 7, 8:57 AM
The void of Chris Mullin is a factor in latest turmoil surrounding the Warriors.
The headlines haven’t been pretty: “Monta unhappy with Warriors” and “Nelson tells Crawford to opt out.”
And all I keep thinking is: Where is Chris Mullin?
First, a quick story or two.
Two years ago around this time, Baron Davis, then a Warrior, was in Los Angeles rehabbing a knee after undergoing arthroscopic surgery in mid-February. He had been rehabbing for about three weeks, and there was uncertainty about when and if he’d return.
The Warriors were 10 or so games below .500, per usual. The fact of the matter was that the Warriors were fading and Davis was dawdling.
Mullin, the Warriors’ executive vice president of basketball operations, hopped on a plane and headed down to L.A., where he spent a couple of days with Davis. The two worked out together, played one-on-one, ate together, talked hoops and pretty much reconnected.
Over the course of their time together, in his own understated way, Mullin delivered the message that needed to be delivered: It’s time to get back and join your team.
Davis got on a plane and met the team in Detroit, where the Warriors wound up blowing out the Pistons. That, of course, started the 16-5 run that eventually led to “We Believe.”
Story No. 2 … After that one-of-a-kind season, Warriors coach Don Nelson started making noise about a new contract, even though he was under contract for the following year. Nelson wanted some more money or another year and it looked as if it was going to be a problem.
Things eventually worked out, and when Nelson was asked how it all worked out, he cited none other than Mullin. Apparently, according to Nelson, Mullin’s continuous “Do the right thing” lectures paid off.
Now, fast forward to March 2009, with Monta Ellis back home in Mississippi with either a family emergency or personal grudge. You decide. And with Nelson telling Jamal Crawford that he wants him to opt out of his contract at year’s end.
And again, the thought is: Where’s Mullin?
Here are a few places where Mullin isn’t: In Jackson, Mississippi, figuring out what’s going on with Ellis; or in Milwaukee, telling Nelson he has no business talking to a player that way.
By now, we know Mullin has been isolated or alienated, whatever you want to call it. Or perhaps from management’s perspective Mullin’s checked out.
Still, it's a fair question: Would all this be happening if Mullin were in charge?
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