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"They didn’t know what we were doing because we didn’t know what we were doing." — How Golden State Warriors' Run TMC took the NBA by storm

Even Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin didn’t have a name for their style. The only thing clear was that the NBA wasn’t ready for it.
Golden State Warriors former players Mitch Richmond , Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway

Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin, and Tim Hardaway

In the 1989-90 season, the Golden State Warriors started something short-lived but remembered forever. Finishing the campaign with a 37-45 record, the Warriors failed to make it to the playoffs, but they led the regular season in scoring with 116.3 points per game. And more than half of that incredible feat was because of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin, who would later be branded as the “Run TMC.”

Run TMC was just different

The following season, the Warriors, led by Hardaway, Richmond, and Mullin, improved their record to 44-38. Golden State was the second-best scoring team, and nobody knew how to stop the trio’s offensive prowess. In fact, even Hardaway, Richmond, and Mullin didn’t have a name for their style. The only thing clear was that the NBA wasn’t ready for it.

Big guys playing outside, small guys going inside, point forwards starting the offense,” Hardaway said in 2015 via NBA.com. “Around the league it was: ‘What are you all doing? What is this about?’ They didn’t know how to even play against us. They didn’t know how to discuss it. They didn’t know how to plan for it. It was mind-boggling to the other team…People couldn’t stop us. They couldn’t scout us. They didn’t know what we were doing because we didn’t know what we were doing. If they went to the playbook, we’d be like ‘what are you looking at?’ Because we might have a playbook but we’re not running them tonight. We’re just running you.

The unconventional yet highly-effective scoring resulted in the Warriors landing the seventh spot in the post-season. They faced the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs and lost Game 1. After the defeat, then-Golden State coach Don Nelson figured out a way to beat the Spurs. And whatever it was, it got the job done as the Warriors edged the Spurs and advanced to the second round.

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I remember losing the first game and having a team meeting, and how confident Nellie was that we were going to win the series,” Mullin recalled. “He said, ‘I found something. I found it. We’re going to get them. We’re gonna beat them.’

The Warriors faced Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semis. Golden State lost Game 1, but they stole Game 2 and headed home to Oakland, brimming with confidence. It was in the hyped team introduction in Game 3 that officially put a name on the trio’s lethal playing style. Introduced by the legendary Hip hop group, Run DMC, Hardaway, Richmond, and Mullin earned the moniker “Run TMC.”

It was fun

Heading into the new season, Run TMC was ready to bounce back. However, Richmond was traded to the Sacramento Kings just before the regular season began. It ended what could’ve been a Run TMC era in Golden State. Nevertheless, Hardaway, Richmond, and Mullin share the sentiment that having done something remarkable like that was fun.

You know, we didn’t win championships together,” Mullin said of Run TMC. “But we had a lot of fun, and we drove a lot of people crazy because we played a crazy style…Wish we would have done a little more, but for that little three-year period, man, we had a ball.

Looking back, it leaves us thinking, what else could Run TMC have accomplished had they stuck together? Too bad, we’ll never know.

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