Mitch Richmond spent seven seasons playing for the Kings, and eventually joined their front office. Now, he's rounding out his link to Sacramento and the NBA as a Kings' pregame and postgame analyst for NBC Sports California.
It's a connection that he has missed.
"I'm very excited to cover the NBA again," Richmond said with a smile. "The last four years I've been doing a lot of college basketball, haven't had an opportunity to see a lot of the NBA games."
Richmond's sacrifice came with the territory of his position as assistant men's basketball coach at St. John's University, on the staff of longtime friend and former teammate Chris Mullin. Mullin hired Richmond as a special assistant upon taking the head coaching job, and he was promoted to assistant coach the following year.
"I think it was an experience for the best," Richmond said of his time at St. John's. "I think each year we felt like we improved the team. Last year, we got to the [NCAA] Tournament. But, it definitely was a learning experience. The college game is so different from the pro game ... you forget that you played college way back when because you've been a part of the NBA family for so long. So, it was a learning experience, a learning curve, but I enjoyed it."
Mullin resigned in April, but even then, he and Richmond couldn't get away from one another.
Just as Richmond is a Kings analyst for NBC Sports California, Mullin now occupies the same role for Golden State Warriors coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area.
The reunification, though, wasn't planned.
"No, we didn't [discuss it ahead of time]," Richmond revealed. "We talked about it a little later, like, 'Oh man, I didn't know you were doing the Kings!' So it was like that, but we talked probably two or three times a week -- that really never came up. We were just talking about a bunch of other stuff, and I think once he heard and was like, 'Man, I didn't know you were doing it,' I said, 'Man, I didn't know you were doing Warriors games!'"
Richmond's first season as a Kings analyst has been an odd one after Sacramento lost its first five games. But the Kings have since rebounded and won six of eight to get back in the race. He attributes the Kings' improved defense and increased familiarity with their new coach and system as the main reasons behind their turnaround.
"The Month of October was that, of trying to learn who they are," Richmond said.
What has been particularly impressive is that the Kings have done this without their best player in De'Aaron Fox, who remains sidelined with a sprained ankle. Richmond was the most recent Kings guard to be named an All-Star, and he thinks both members of Sacramento's starting backcourt are capable of being the next one.
"I think it's going to probably be Fox," Richmond predicted, "and I think Buddy Hield is showing that he belongs in this league. I think if he can continue to do what he's doing -- he's showing that he can defend on the other end -- I think he'll have an opportunity at some point in time to make an All-Star game."
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As for whether or not the Kings will end their playoff drought this season, Richmond believes consistency will be the key. He was a fixture with the Kings for many years, and you can expect that to continue moving forward.