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YouTube Gold: Former Duke Star Jeff Mullins

A huge early star in Duke’s Vic Bubas era, Mullins went on to a superb NBA career.

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Forty three years before Quinn Cook got a ring with Golden State, Jeff Mullins, another former Blue Devil won one of his own with the Warriors, in 1975. And he had to put up with Rick Barry’s petulance too.
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no question that the game of basketball has changed enormously over the last 50 years.

In 1968, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell ruled the league. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on the horizon as the next great player. Connie Hawkins was beginning to hint at a more aerial game in the wide open ABA. Julius Erving and David Thompson were 18 and 14 respectively, and they were soon to build on what the Hawk had started to do out in the basketball outlands.

Michael Jordan was just five.

In 1968, Duke grad Jeff Mullins was just four years into an outstanding pro career. He spent two years in St. Louis with the Hawks before being traded to Golden State and where he was a starting guard for the Warrior’s first title (he was also the first Blue Devil to win an NBA championship).

We say all of this to lead up to this video. You’ll see Mullins playing a much more cautious game here than we see today.

He could certainly dunk but there is none of that here. There is no flashy ball handling or showboating and he’s not ripping off Eurosteps or slick moves.

Still, you can see that he’s superbly built for basketball. He’s long and lean and quick.

If he played today, with modern training techniques and equipment (not least of all modern shoes), he’d be very good. Keep in mind that in 1968, most players didn’t weight train and no one had developed nutrition as an athletic science the way it is today.

Comparisons are not generally a great idea but he was certainly as least as athletic as fellow former Blue Devil JJ Redick and probably more along the lines of soon-to-be-drafted Donte DiVincenzo or Duke’s own Grayson Allen.

His game looks dated because the game has changed. Human athleticism has been refined but athletes are athletes. And you don’t have to look long to see that Mullins was a very good athlete indeed.

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