By Brian Taylor
In today’s NBA, you have your rebounders, shot-blockers, jump shooting assassins, and lock-down defenders. The position of “pure scorer”, however, isn’t filled by many in the league. Many are called, but even fewer are chosen, to be the guy to get into the zone and fill the stat sheet. Everyone remembers Kobe’s 81-point explosion against the Raps, and a few nights ago, we were treated to a 60-point masterpiece from Gilbert Arenas. Very few players in history have had what it takes to be the “scorer”, and one of those guys from back in the day was Ft. Lauderdale’s own, Mitch Richmond.
For those that don’t really remember Mitch, he was one of the aforementioned “pure scorers”, a guy that could hurt you inside/outside/posting up/at the free throw line/from the concession stand/ he was deadly. Everyone remembers his 1988 Olympic team as the one that prompted us to create the “Dream Team”. In his first days fresh out of Kansas State, Richmond was scooped up by Golden State, Mitch (“Rock” to his teammates) ran with Chris Mullin and Timmy Hardaway to form “RunTMC”, one of the illest NBA cliques ever. Milwaukee had Ray Allen, Sam Cassell and Glen Robinson. The Knicks had Sprewell, Houston and Ewing, and the Wizards have Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, but those three really started the “3 star trend”.
What made Mitch really standout on the NBA landscape was his work in the California capitol (Sacramento), where he was shipped for “the leagues’ most traded man” Billy Owens. In Sacto, a revolution took place.
Gone were the lame powder blue and red jerseys, also gone was the losing attitude, and Mitch brought a team that was lame for eleven years straight into the playoffs. Who could forget those horrendous half-black/half-purple checkerboard jerseys, or the fact that Bobby Hurley was never the same after that car accident? Richmond averaged a good 21-22 points per game from 1992-1998, actually netting All-Star MVP honors in the 1995 game.
In one of the dumbest trades in league history (yes Wes Unseld, I’m still pissed), Mitch was shipped to the newly renamed Washington Wizards for then-beast power forward Chris Webber. Everyone gave the lame excuse that Webber and Howard played the same position, and that Calbert Cheaney wasn’t cutting it at the 2 spot, well by the time we got Mitch, he still had gas left in the tank. The backcourt of Rod Strickland and Mitch Richmond was…on paper….supposed to be the nastiest in the league, but really they lost a ton of games. Mitch wasn’t as explosive as he was out west, and it showed in his game. A typical Richmond possession:He’d catch it on the wing, back his man down, brick a fadeaway jumper and spend 15 seconds mouthing off to referees before thinking about heading downcourt to play D on his man (who’d already scored at this point).
This was the beginning of the end, and he was soon waived by D.C., (with some Jordan guy, who was really good, taking his place).
But all was not lost for Mitch, he did the “Old Guy World Tour” and caught on with the Kobe-Shaq Lakers and got him a ring riding the pine.
Nowadays, he does scouting for the Golden State Warriors (he needs props if he’s the one that found Monta Ellis!) So if you need a reminder of “the Scorelord” at work, check this out!