Chris Mullin is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. As he should be.
And as Mullin watched Game 3 of the Warriors-Trail Blazers Western Conference finals Saturday night, he could have sworn he saw another Hall of Famer running out there on the Moda Center court.
"He looked like Magic tonight the way he was pushing the ball full steam ahead after makes and misses," Mullin said of Draymond Green's performance in Golden State's 110-99 win. "Scoring the ball, rebounding, assisting, communicating, I thought he did a great job of keeping just the positive energy, even when they were down."
There came a moment in Saturday's game when that positive energy was deployed expertly and on point. Jordan Bell missed a wide-open dunk, drawing jeers from the Portland crowd. Shortly thereafter, Green tried to refocus his younger teammate, and the microphones picked up his message.
The type of leader every team needs 🙌pic.twitter.com/Tr3JblKAyX— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 19, 2019
Mullin, who stepped down as head coach at St. John's University in April, knows full well the value of having a player like Green who can communicate that message from a place of earned authority. In Mullin's eyes, Green's seemingly endless storage of energy and enthusiasm doesn't come about by accident.
"I really think the way Draymond, the last month or two with his fitness level increasing, I think when you're physically fit and you don't get tired, you're sharper mentally, you've got a more positive feel about what's going on, no matter what that is," Mullin said. "Your decision-making is sharper. You don't fatigue mentally or physically, so you have that extra energy to help your teammates."
Green certainly didn't appear to tire throughout Game 3, over which he tallied a triple-double with 20 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. He also collected four steals and one block, meaning he has five combined blocks and steals in all three games of the best-of-seven series thus far.
Green believes he's the best defender in NBA history. Is Mullin ready to give him that title?
"Right now, the way the game's played, he's up there as the best defensive player that's out there right now, no question about it," Mullin said of Green's claim. "The way he played tonight? He was one of the best players ever in the history of the game, because he was defensive, he was offensive, he was leading. He did everything."
One of the best players ever, even if just for one night. That's some high praise from someone who knows what it takes to be one of the best.
Mullin didn't stop there with the compliments.
"Look, they're getting ready to go to their fifth Finals in a row," Mullin said of the Warriors. "Steve Kerr is getting close to where Red Auerbach was -- that's saying something. And all these players are falling in line with all the legends of the game, whether it be [Larry] Bird, Magic [Johnson], [Michael] Jordan ... they're up in that category with their team and their individual performances."
After winning Game 3, only one more victory lies between the Warriors and that fifth consecutive NBA Finals berth. If Green keeps playing like a Hall of Famer, that's bound to happen sooner rather than later.