The big three.  When you hear the phrase, what comes to mind?  The Miami Heat.  The San Antonio Spurs.  You may even go old school and think back to Showtime or the front court of the Boston Celtics during the Larry Bird years.  All in all you are correct in your thinking, however when it comes to pure excitement and an entertaining style of play, all others have to take a back seat to the 80’s/90's runaway trolley of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin aka Run TMC.  

The name is of course derived from the Kings of Rock, Run DMC, however it was the melody of hearing the ball go through the net which made the sound of swish a continuous theme in Oakland from 1989-1991.   It all began when the Golden State Warriors drafted a lightning-quick point guard out of UTEP named Tim Hardaway with the 14th overall pick.  Showcasing his “Chicago-swag”, Hardaway averaged 18.8 points per game, 9.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.4 steals during the Run TMC era.  He put defenders on roller-skates using his patented Killer Crossover “UTEP Two Step” crossover that would ultimately set a trend for up-and-coming guards who stepped into the league.  In addition to breaking ankles, Hardaway’s pull-up 3-point shot and off-balanced layups quickly made him into one of the most lethal players in all of basketball.  His second season with the Warriors may arguably be the best of his career as he fit perfectly into the head coach Don Nelson’s system to play alongside backcourt mate…

…Mitch Richmond, who is perhaps one of the most underrated players in NBA history.  That is until a few days ago as the Basketball Hall of Fame most deservedly elected him into its newest class.  Richmond, also affectionately known as “The Rock”, was one of the purest shooters in league history.  In addition to his feathery touch, Richmond could also go into bulldog mode and get to the rim with the best of them.  During his two seasons with Run TMC he posted the numbers of 23 points per game, 3.0 assists, and 5.3 rebounds.  Mitch was the epitome of the term pick your poison.  Blessed with the ability to hit from outside the arc at a 40 percent clip, he would also lull defenders to sleep with the smoothness of his game then attack the rim with the force of a power forward. No higher praise could be spoken as the G.O.A.T., Michael Jordan himself, said that of all of the players he has ever defended, Mitch Richmond was the toughest defensive assignment that he has ever had.  So if you have a speedy point guard who is also a deadly shooter, coupled with another marksman in the backcourt, what else would a team need to take your heart?  How about a sweet shooting lefty on the other wing who was considered by many to be the most dangerous of them all…

…Chris Mullin, a player who was often looked at like he was Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) from White Men Can’t Jump.  But who needs to dunk when you shoot a blistering 53 percent from the floor and passing the rock as efficient as anyone in the game.  While in the Run TMC era, Mullie averaged 25.4 points, 4.1 assists, 5.7 rebounds, and nearly two steal per game .  He has always been most respected for his high basketball IQ, which was highlighted even more playing with the likes of one of the most incredible backcourts in NBA history.

 

So what happened?  With a trio of scorers, the fun and excitement of pushing the ball up and down the floor, and a coach who encouraged his team to let if fly, this seemed like a team who was poised to do something special right?  From the general eye test of fans who witnessed Run TMC, the answer is yes, however to Warriors management and an extremely overzealous coach in Don Nelson, the grass was greener on the other side.  With the emergence of forward Sarunas Marciulionis (who was averaging 10.9 points per game in only 19.7 minutes at the time), Mitch Richmond was perceived as expendable.  With a high powered perimeter game the Warriors were looking for an inside presence to give more of an overall balance.  At the beginning of the 1991-92 season, Richmond was dealt to the Sacramento Kings for Billy Owens who was the third overall pick in the summer’s NBA draft.  Everything was tailor-made for the Warriors to make their run…except that is wasn’t.  Without “The Rock” in the lineup, the Warriors were searching for the piece to the puzzle to help them get over the hump for years. 

It’s unfortunate that one of the most entertaining trios in league history only had two years to put their combined talents on display.  The what if question will simply linger on forever.  But one thing is great about this, at least we had the opportunity to enjoy it while it lasted.  #RESPECT