Mark Jackson and Chris Mullin go back to the times when “honeys were wearin’ sassoon.” Coming up together in New York City’s legendary high school hoops scenes that has produced several basketball hall of famers and other mythical figures like Earl Manigault, Jackson knows Mullin’s history closely. And he can vouch for Mullin’s place in the pantheon of NYC legends.
In an interview with CSN Bay Area’s Matt Steinmetz, Jackson talks about the tall tales of Mullin being a “bad man” from Brooklyn, New York and the local perception that he must be Black:
“I did hear he was white before I saw him. Being quite honest, when people told me how bad he was, I thought he must have been a black guy living in Brooklyn. That was initially. Then I got a chance to hear more and more people talking about it and they plainly said he was a white guy in Brooklyn and he was an incredible basketball player…”
The point of Jackson mentioning this wasn’t to suggest that Mullin was an exceptional white player who could play as well as black players. Through his memory, he retells this stories (responding to Steinmetz questions) to suggest that New York’s hoop scene is filled with tall tales of great basketball players regardless of race and that perhaps there’s something particular to New York hoops that produces such great figures. To suggest race didn’t matter in the eighties and the present would be ahistorical.
But Jackson’s homage tells us a little more of what made Mullin so good and that, perhaps, was his training in the New York hoops scene.