Mullin not complaining about reduced playing time

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The Independent Online

Chris Mullin would love more playing time with the Indiana Pacers. He is not complaining, though, about his reduced role as a reserve for the NBA's Central Division leaders.

Chris Mullin would love more playing time with the Indiana Pacers. He is not complaining, though, about his reduced role as a reserve for the NBA's Central Division leaders.

He's showing the same dedication that he's shown for 15 years in the league and his teammates have noticed.

"You've got to respect that," said Mark Jackson, who also was a teammate of Mullin at St John's. "Here's a guy, who in my opinion is a future Hall of Famer. He could be playing for teams that come in here, and he could do a job on us."

As training camp opened, Mullin learned he had lost his starting job at small forward to Jalen Rose as part of the team's youth movement.

Rather than sulk over the change by coach Larry Bird, he continues to work on his physical conditioning and the playing skills that made him an All-American, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a four-time NBA All-Star.

"He's a guy who knows how to play the game," Jackson said. "He's a pure shooter. I know it is tough on him, but he's been ready every time we've called on him. It's no coincidence. It's just the way he approaches the game every day."

Mullin hasn't played in 10 games this season, and he's averaged only 11 minutes in the team's other 16 games.

"Any time Chris Mullin is your 10th player, you're a deep team," said Austin Croshere, whose progress this season also has cut into Mullin's playing time. "He's a guy who can come in and give you a big lift at any time."

"You can't do anything but admire Chris for how he has handled things this season," Dale Davis said. "He was a starter last year, and now he's not playing as much. But when he gets the chance, he produces and that says a lot for a veteran player.

"For a player of his caliber, it is tough to accept becoming a role player. ... Still, he works hard every day. He's a true pro."

Mullin, 36, has been making the most of his limited playing time.

"I just want to be ready to help when I'm called upon," Mullin said after helping the Pacers defeat the New Yogoing to carry it around and make it a negative."

Mullin became the 50th player in NBA history to score 17,500 points last season. However, he's added only 70 to the total of 17,554 points he had at the start of the season.

"I do not like sitting, but when you are winning, you have to wait for your chance," Mullin said. "Sitting three quarters is not bad, it's when you sit a month when you wonder.

"I will be ready when called upon. I know what point in my career I am in. I must take advantage when called upon anytime, anywhere."

Bird calls Mullin a "true professional."

"I always admired his love of the game when I was playing and enjoyed having him as a teammate when we won the gold in the Olympics," Bird said. "I stopped playing after that, but he just keeps plugging away."

Bird said a rebound by Mullin was the biggest play of Saturday's victory over New York.

"He got the rebound in the corner and knocked it off a guy's leg and Sam (Perkins) makes two free throws," Bird said. "It shows when someone goes down, Chris is ready to step up."

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