Bring up the name Mitch Richmond in these parts any time in the last 16 or so years and some sort of audible sigh or eye roll followed. That's no knock on the dynamic wing guards career, but rather his place in the history of Washington's NBA franchise.
Bring up Richmond's name these days and a title goes first: Hall of Famer.
The 14-year veteran joined former University of Maryland coach Gary Williams and center Alonzo Mourning as members of the 2014 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class. Selected fifth overall out of Kansas State in 1988, the solidly built Richmond scored over 20,000 points in his career, averaging 21 points in 976 career games.
That includes 161 games over three seasons with the Wizards. Washington abruptly traded Chris Webber to the Sacramento Kings in 1998 for a packaged headlined by Richmond. If the Wizards were receiving the version selected an All-Star six straight seasons from 1993-98, that would be one thing.
Though he was coming off the last of those All-Star appearances, Richmond turned 33 in his first season with Washington. He averaged 19.7 points that campaign, but only played 50 games. The numbers declined over the next two seasons and Washington never reached the playoffs during his three seasons.
The combination of dealing young and tall for older and shorter broke several basic unwritten trade guidelines not to mention the hearts of local fans who wanted to see the Webber-Juwan Howard pairing play out here. Instead, Webber starred for several years in Sacramento and nearly put the Kings in the NBA Finals.
That's how the D.C. area views Mitch Richmond. Those who know the game know better than dismiss the 1995 All-Star game MVP's career because of how it turned out in Washington. From ProBasketballTalk.com's Kurt Helin:
Richmond deserved to be (in the Hall of Fame). The six-time NBA All-Star was a player whose game would fit in smoothly in today’s NBA. He could shoot with three-point range, and he could put it on the floor and get to the rim then finish with authority. Basically, the man could flat-out score and finished averaging 21 points a game or more for 10 consecutive seasons. He went on to win an NBA title (2002 Lakers) and an Olympic Gold Medal (1996).
Here is Richmond's Hall of Fame video introduction, showing highlights from his stellar career. Not in the package, any indication he ever played for the Wizards. Dont blame Richmond for that.