RUN TMC: The Original “Big Three”
Though they were only together for two seasons, anybody who watched the NBA from 1989 to 1991 remembers “Run TMC” for two reasons; 1) It was a great nickname that summed up how they played 2) It was fun to watch three teammates playing at such a high level together.
All three players, Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin, were unselfish guys who knew how to play basketball. If at any moment any one of them got greedy, it wouldn’t have worked; all three would’ve been stunted. But in the end Don Nelson stunted “Run TMC” in a way that no defense ever could.
“Run TMC” was created during the 1989-90 when Hardaway was drafted out of UTEP and joined second year pro Richmond and Mullin in his sixth year. The trio was known for scoring and an up tempo style of play averaging a combined 61.9 points in year one. They really picked up steam in the 90-91 season averaging 72.5 ppg combined. Perspective check- Bosh, Wade and James averaged a combined 70.9 this year.
“Run TMC” really had a little something for everyone in each of its three components.
The “T”, Tim Hardaway a six foot point guard from Chicago was maybe the quickest player in the league for several years during his prime, proven over and over via the “Killer Crossover” breaking ankles making some of the quickest humans in the world look slow. And, he could pop his patented “knuckleball” three at a roughly 36% clip just to keep everyone honest. His first five years in the league he averaged 20.5 ppg and 9.6 apg.
Then the “M”, Mitch Richmond, maybe to this day the most underrated player in NBA history. As a rookie out of K-State he averaged 22.0 ppg and never averaged less than 21.9 ppg for the next 11 seasons. Just when you thought he was “merely” a guy who could sit outside, hit 40% from downtown and was generally a great overall shooter, he’d attack the rim and stuff one on some opposing big man. And you almost couldn’t believe it because he lulled you to sleep with the smoothness of his game.
And finally the “C”, Chris Mullin, recent Hall of Fame inductee. Constantly overlooked for a lack of overall athleticism because at 6-7 he rarely dunked, but he was great at everything else. His shooting gets all the credit (which it should, shooting 53% from the floor during the two years of Run TMC) but Mullin was a great passer and rarely left the floor (literally and figuratively), leading the NBA in minutes in 90-91 and 91-92. I recently heard someone on TV say he was overrated, which is ridiculous when you look at the numbers alone. In a five year period from 1988-89 to 1992-93 he averaged 25.7 ppg and 4.0 apg, while shooting 86% from the line and 52% from the field. Even if he was doing that against girls it would still be impressive.
But all good things come to an end, right? The emergence of forward Sarunas Marciulionis (who averaged 10.9 ppg in only 19.7 mpg in 90-91) made Mitch Richmond expendable and he was dealt by Don Nelson for “can’t miss” prospect Billy Owens, which we briefly touched on here. The Warriors really had no inside presence, unless you count an aging Paul Mokeski, and I’m not. So the Owens trade was an attempt at getting an inside presence to match with Hardaway, Mullin and Marciulionis at the expense of Richmond.
Imagine if it would’ve worked. Sorry Nellie, it didn’t. Richmond got the last laugh, winning a title with the Lakers in his final NBA season, while neither Mullin, Hardaway, Owens nor Nelson (as a coach) ever would.