Before I get into the greatness of Mitch "The Rock" Richmond, let's make a few quick points regarding to the 1995 NBA All-Star Game. Find the best horse racing bookmakers right here.
- The 1995 NBA All-Star Game uniforms are some of the finest pieces of work ever worn by NBA All-Stars. Those absurd purples, oranges and teals gave designers confidence to go all-out with the teal in the 1996 mid-season classic. The '96 uniforms are arguably the greatest ever, but they don't happen without '95 taking the first step.
- The man tabbed by many to take the torch from MJ was Grant Hill. Hill was the leading vote getter in the '95 ASG with 1.2 million votes...as a rookie.
- 1995 brought us the culmination of John Thompson's teachings from Georgetown as Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo all made the All-Star Team.
- Phoenix's styling of their basketball court was a desert oasis dream. The colors popped, the 1995 "Stay In School" campaign was prominently on the hardwood and it felt like you were in Arizona. The NBA should do this more often.
- The '95 ASG was the first season of normalcy post-Michael Jordan's first retirement. All anyone could think about in '94 was life without Mike. '95 felt like something new.
With that being said, it's time to take note of the fact that the best shooting guard in the land post-MJ retirement was Mitch Richmond.
Richmond, who at the time was a 7-year veteran and 3-time consecutive All-Star was in the midst of his athletic prime. At 29 years old, 6'5" and 220 pounds, no one was as qualified as the man many called "The Rock". A long-range assassin, strong as an ox and athletically gifted, Richmond was setup to be the league's preeminent scoring guard. However, there was one significant problem. He played for the Sacramento Kings.
For many basketball fans, Mitch Richmond is the first significant superstar that anyone can remember playing for the Kings. Richmond was originally a part of one of the greatest trios in NBA history, as the Golden State Warriors trotted out Tim Hardaway, Richmond and Chris Mullin for three seasons from 1988-1991. Dubbed 'Run-TMC', the Warriors were primed to be one of the league's favorite franchises, but in November of the 1991-92 season Richmond was traded to the Kings for Billy Owens. (Yes, we understand if you haven't heard of Billy Owens before. It wasn't a good trade for Golden State.)
What Richmond did on a Sunday night in Phoenix 20 years ago reaffirmed what those who faced him already knew. The Rock is one of basketball's all time best pure shooters, and he commanded respect any time he stepped on the basketball court. That respect came from everyone, including the previously best shooting guard in the league before him, Michael Jordan. Jordan has consistently let the world know that Richmond was the toughest shooting guard to defend, and MJ asked Richmond to continue his sneaker legacy by wearing his Air Jordan line in the NBA. Even if casual basketball fans were unaware of how good Richmond was, the best to ever do it certainly did.
Of course, Jordan would return to the league just one month later and reclaim the throne for best
shooting guard player alive, but for one night Richmond was given the pedestal to show everyone why he was an all-time great. 23 points on 10-13 shooting and not missing from 3-point range will do that for you. All hail The Rock, 20 years later.
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”