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Fans Weep as Chris Mullin Returns to Queens as Coach of St. John's

By Katie Honan | April 2, 2015 5:29pm
 The Chris Mullin bobblehead looks on.
The Chris Mullin bobblehead looks on.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

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Three decades after he brought the St. John's men's basketball team to the Final Four as a player, the university announced what fans have wanted to hear for years: Chris Mullin is back.

The 51-year-old replaced former coach Steve Lavin and was introduced Wednesday by legend Lou Carnesecca, Mullin's coach in the 1980s and the namesake of the university's gym.

Mullin told the crowd — packed with current students, faculty and alumni — that he would bring the glory days of the Red Storm back to Union Turnpike. 

“We are going to get this program back to those days and have it consistent," he said. 

The news brought at least one man to tears, according to Tarik Turner, a former St. John's player and emcee of the announcement.

While riding the train that morning to the city, he overheard a boy tell his grandfather that Mullin was returning to coach St. John's. The grandfather didn't believe it at first, thinking it was an April Fool's joke.

But when it sunk in, Turner said, he started to cry. 

Returning to St. John's is a major homecoming for Mullin, who despite being drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 1985 and remaining in California after retiring, continued to have strong roots in the city.

When he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, he explained his decision to stay in New York after graduating from Xaverian High School.

"When it was time to choose a college, it was an easy choice," he said.

"I packed a bag, left Bay Ridge and went 12 miles down the Belt Parkway to St. John's University. I chose the best coach, the best city and I played in The World’s Most Famous Arena. “

On the other side of the court, he said he hopes other local stars do the same, and he's reportedly already offered a scholarship to local Christ the King star Rawle Atkins.

As one fan yelled at the end of the introduction ceremony: "Go get 'em, Mull." 

Enjoy these classic Chris Mullin videos:

Mullin tours his old Xaverian High School gym before NBA All-Star Week. 

Mullin plays at the St. Thomas Aquinas gym on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.

"He's Brooklyn. The way he talks, the way he acts." A 1992 feature on Mullin which discusses his New York roots and overcoming alcohol abuse.

Chris Mullin and the then-Redmen battle the Georgetown Hoyas in the 1985 Final Four.