|Mullins drives past Jerry West for two of his 13,017 career points (hcummins photo)|
Opportunistic with a keen sense of the game, Jeff Mullins played a dozen seasons at the pinnacle of his sport.
The 6'4" shooting-guard was drafted 5th overall in the 1964 NBA Draft by the St Louis Hawks following a storied All-American career at Duke that culminated with an Olympic Gold Medal at the '64 Tokyo Games. Mullins was the first major talent to enter the free-flowing pipeline from Duke to the NBA.
After a brief stint with the Chicago Bulls in 1966, Mullins was traded to the San Francisco Warriors for veteran NBA star Guy Rodgers. He was the first player off the bench in a loaded Warrior offense that included Nate Thurmond, Rick Barry, Tom Meschery, Al Attles and Jim King.
The next year saw Mullins blossom as the team's go-to scorer when Rick Barry bolted for the ABA in one of the most debated career moves in NBA history. Mullins enjoyed a brilliant 4 year streak of averaging more than 20 points per game (1968-71). In the 1968 post season, he averaged 25.1 ppg and shot 52% from the field.
Mullins was at the peak of his stardom as he was named to the NBA All-Star Team in 1969,1970 and 1971. His body finally riddled with injuries, the 33-year-old Mullins' career culminated in 1975, as the Golden State Warriors captured the NBA World Championship by sweeping the Washington Bullets in the Finals. Mullins retired the following season after playing 804 career games, third in franchise history.
Mullins would later go on to become the head basketball coach at UNC-Charlotte, where he compiled a 182-142 record over an 11-year span.
I will always remember Jeff Mullins as a player who had some good breaks and some bad ones, all the while making the absolute best of both. On a personal level, I best remember Jeff from those post game late-night hours spent at our favorite San Diego eatery The Cotton Patch, or the visits to his Northern California home where his two young daughters would serve up pancakes for breakfast.
Pork chops and pancakes endure... while pages from the basketball record books can blur.