August 08, 2011
Larry Bird and Chris Mullin came from very different backgrounds. Bird was a native of rural Indiana, and he plied his collegiate trade at Indiana State, playing in relative obscurity in Indiana's third-biggest NCAA hoops stage. Mullin was a Brooklyn guy with the accent to match, suiting up for home games at Madison Square Garden with the St. John's (then) Redmen. Bird was drafted by the famous Boston Celtics, while Mullin was picked up by the usually infamous Golden State Warriors.
But holy lord, could those two shoot. To a point, during their time with the 1992 Team USA "Dream Team," where they canceled each other out, shooting hoops for a hundred bucks a pop.
"It was just basic shots - jumpers, bank shots, not like the McDonald's commercial (laughter)," Mullin said. "I got off nice. After a while I had him by ... quite a bit."
"More than that. I think I was up like 20 shots. So we're talkin' back and forth (Bird was a legendary trash talker), and he starts coming back. I'm thinking, we could go another 30 minutes. Somebody's gonna win big here.
"Finally, he gets it back to zero," Mullin said, "and he goes, 'I'm out.' Just cut off the game right there."
What, he didn't want to take you down?
"Nope. Says to me, 'I ain't never lost, and I ain't ... now.' "
Bird went on to push to trade for Mullin when he became coach of the Indiana Pacers in 1997, and there have been some rumors of Mullin working in the Pacers' front office alongside Bird as Larry contemplates his NBA future. Also, they combined (with Mullin running the Warriors at the time) on an eight-player trade in 2007 that didn't really do a whole hell of a lot for either the Warriors or the Pacers.
Call it a tie, I suppose.