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Mullin Returns To Warriors

Chris Mullin left his heart in Oakland, and on Thursday, he returned to where his career began.

Mullin agreed to a one-year contract with the Golden State Warriors, assuring he will finish his NBA playing days in the same place he played his first 12 seasons. The four-time All-Star was waived by the Indiana Pacers two weeks ago.

"Every time I came back here to play, I felt like this place was special and that I was going to come back here some time in the future," Mullin said.

Mullin holds franchise records for games played (787) and steals (1,344), while ranking fourth in points (16,120), fourth in assists (3,127) and second in 3-pointers (571).

Saying it was "a special day for everyone in the Warriors' organization," Golden State GM Garry St. Jean intimated that Mullin will find a front-office position waiting for him when he finishes playing.

"He's in the twilight of his career, but I think he has his own short-term goals," coach Dave Cowens said. "Also, the long-term situation is important to Chris."

Mullin's return came together last week when he was in the Bay Area. He scrimmaged with several Warriors players and discovered he was energized by Golden State's youth and potential and the direction the franchise is headed under Cowens.

"I've known Chris for a very long time and consider him like a brother," St. Jean said. "Over the years and over the past months, we have talked about what his game plan was. We talked last week while he was here playing with some of the guys."

St. Jean said five players asked him to sign Mullin and that he expects Mullin to serve as a mentor to forward Antawn Jamison.

"I was taught a long time ago that you listen to your players," St. Jean said. "That meant a lot in the decision-making process."

Mullin said he isn't sure what his role will be with the Warriors, but "there's not a lot I haven't done, from being the No. 1 option to the No. 12 option."

"One night it might be a flashback night, and I'll get hot," he said with a grin.

Mullin, 37, averaged more than 25 points for five straight seasons with the Warriors, including a career-high 26.5 in 1988-89. With Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond, he formed the "Run T-M-C" unit that brought Golden State some of the best times in its fairly ordinary recent yers.

Mullin, an All-NBA first-teamer in 1991-92, has been a fan favorite in Oakland ever since he was the seventh overall pick in the 1985 draft. He even received standing ovations when he returned from a stint in alcohol rehab that caused him to miss 22 games in 1987-88.

A two-time Olympian and a member of the original Dream Team in 1992, Mullin was traded to Indiana for Erick Dampier and Duane Ferrell in 1997. As usual, the Warriors were going nowhere, and Mullin wanted a shot at an NBA title.

He played for three seasons under coach Larry Bird, a Dream Team teammate. But Mullin's playing time drastically decreased last season as the Pacers made their first NBA Finals and became a more uptempo team led by Jalen Rose.

Mullin requested his release earlier this month to allow him to catch on with another team. He secretly hoped that team would be the Warriors, a feeling that was reinforced after his visit to Golden State's training gym in downtown Oakland.

"Last week while I was here, I got a good feeling about the young guys here," said Mullin, sounding like a future coach. "I see players that want to be here, and I have the feeling they want direction."

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