In an exclusive interview with Kings.com, the multi-time All-Star dishes on his storied career, favorite Sacramento memories and much more.
One of the game’s most proficient scorers, Mitch Richmond became the 25th player in League history to pour in 20,000 career points while connecting on the fourth-most triples (1,196) in the NBA during the 1990s.
One of only seven players to average over 21 points per game in each of his first 10 seasons, the 1995 All-Star Game MVP remains the all-time Sacramento-era leader in points (12,070), field goals (4,230) and free throws (2,617), and ranks second in three-pointers (993), assists (2,128) and steals (670). The Kansas State product also holds or shares franchise records for points (25), three-pointers (five) and free-throws made (13) in a quarter.
After instantly making a mark on the League by winning the 1989 Rookie of the Year Award, “The Rock” – who was acquired by the Kings in exchange for the Draft rights to Billy Owens prior to the 1991-92 season – went on to become a six-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA Team Member and U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist.
In an interview with Kings.com, Richmond – whose No. 2 jersey proudly hangs in the rafters at Sleep Train Arena – reflects on his historic career, favorite memories, origins of his nickname and more.
During your time with the Kings, what were some of your fondest memories?
“Just being in (the arena) – coming in every night, seeing the fans cheer us on and excited about seeing us on the floor, never letting the team down and trying to (help us win games).”
Who were some of your favorite Kings teammates?
“I had a lot of them – Spud Webb, Lionel Simmons, Walt Williams, Olden Polynice, Anthony Bonner, Randy Brown – the list goes on and on. I had some great teammates and (our friendships) are still going on to this day. I had a lot of good relationships on a couple of teams I played for, but it’s definitely special when you can continue to keep these guys in your life and just grow as young men.”
What was the key to maintaining your place among the game’s great consistent scorers throughout your career?
“I think just working at it. When I played well, by the time the season was over, I knew had to start getting back to work and try to beat the year that just passed. It was all about being consistent and never letting myself down, above all.”
Which accomplishments are you most proud of when looking back at your celebrated playing career?
“I’m proud of everything – just my entire journey. When I look back at my career, each year I tried to grow and tried to be better than I was the first year, the second year and (so on). So, I think just (throughout) the journey, (I’m proud of) the many good things that have happened.”
Michael Jordan called you his toughest opponent and many additional players admired your defense. How important was it for you to make an impact on both ends of the court?
“It was very important because at that time (shooting) guards and (small forwards) were so difficult to guard. You had to come in and make sure you could defend them or you could really look bad. What I tried to do is play both ends of the court. Just like I played on offense, I wanted to play as hard on defense.”
How did you earn the nickname “The Rock” and who was the first person to call you by it?
“When I came to the Warriors, Rod Higgins and Chris Mullin started calling me ‘The Rock’ because I was posting up a lot and going to the hole – everybody was just bouncing off of me.”
What was your typical gameday routine like as a player?
“After practice, I wanted to get up at least 100 threes and then some (other) shots. Then I’d go home and rest, look at some of the tapes of guys I’d go up against (while) resting the knees. I’d try to get a chicken sandwich (before) I’d get ready to play. When I came (to the arena), I wanted to stretch, probably loosen up and get in the hot tub a little bit. Then, I’d come out and take a couple of shots – like 20, 25 – just to get loose and get ready for the game.”
How often do you lace up your sneakers nowadays?
“I used to play all the time. But over this past year, (I’ve had few) chances, so I’m just doing a lot of swimming, working out a lot and taking it easy.
“But just being on the court brings goose bumps. You really, truly want to get out there and play, but you know you can’t do it.”
Since retiring you’ve worked in the front office and as an analyst for NBA TV. How much have you enjoyed your various positions off the court?
“I always enjoy them because it keeps me around the game, keeps me talking about basketball – something I know, something I love and something that made me who I am today. Anytime you can continue to talk about those things, it’s always a blessing.
“I love just watching the game – I love watching the players, I love watching every single game (because there’s) something different about every team.”
What’s your impression of the current Kings squad?
“I really like it – I think they have a lot of young talent. I think at times they play up to their potential, and I really and truly like the young players and everything (going forward).”
Catch Richmond, Kings legend Chris Webber, current Sacramento stars and more at Long Live The Kings Rally Thursday from 5-9 p.m. at Cesar Chavez Park in Downtown Sacramento!
See more of “The Rock” by following the Sacramento Kings on Vine: Watch!