SACRAMENTO - Under appreciated no more. Mitch Richmond's greatest accomplishment of his career happened in his retirement.
Richmond, the former Sacramento Kings legend, who was a 6-time All Star during his seven seasons with the team, returned to Sleep Train Arena on Wednesday to be recognized as a Hall-of-Famer during the season finale.
"That's truly amazing, it really is," Richmond told News10. "And I can say I accomplished this (before) turning 50. I still feel like a young man and this is just an unbelievable accomplishment."
Richmond, 48, was inducted into this year's class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on April 7. In his second year of eligibility, he will be enshrined alongside former NBA Commissioner David Stern, Alonzo Mourning and former Kings teammate Sarunas Marciulionis.
Richmond said that he plans on entering the Basketball Hall of Fame donning his retired No. 2 jersey with the Sacramento Kings.
"Of course, you know that," Richmond said. "How can I not? I played most of my career in Sacramento."
Nicknamed "the Rock" for his solid, all-round style of play and importance to his team, Richmond is still the Sacramento-era leader in points, and trails Oscar Robertson and Jack Twyman on the franchise's all time scoring list.
Richmond spent his first three seasons with the Golden State Warriors and won the Rookie of the Year award. He then, reluctantly, came to Sacramento in a trade for Billy Owens before the 1991 season. From there, Sacramento eventually grew on him, and he lifted the franchise out of the seller and into the playoffs.
"From day one, it was tough to come here," Richmond said. "But, more than anything, the people in Sacramento welcomed me with open arms and the one thing I liked most about playing in Sacramento was the fan base. Every night we had a sellout. It was great to come to work and I think they helped me a lot."
In addition to the six All-Star selections, Richmond was awarded the game's MVP award in 1995, scoring 23 points in 22 minutes off of the bench.That summer, he joined Team USA and won an Olympic gold medal in Atlanta in 1996. He was also named to six consecutive All-NBA teams while playing in Sacramento, where he averaged over 23 points per contest.
Despite the recognition as an All-Star caliber player, Richmond was often overlooked as one of the league's top stars. He played in an era under the shadow of other future Hall-of-Fame players like Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller, who were leading championship contending teams.
"Definitely, you feel that way when you don't get the recognition you feel you deserve," said Richmond.
Playing in Sacramento, a smaller market away from the lime-light of the NBA's elite cities like Los Angeles and Chicago surely contributed to his lack of stardom. Because of that, Richmond felt he may never become a Hall-of-Famer.
"You have those thoughts," Richmond admitted. "The main thing is you try to look at the body of work. I think when you look back at it, I wasn't just a scorer, I tried to play the overall game.
"I want to thank the (Hall of Fame voters) for looking beyond that, because I felt like I won everywhere I went, I just had a stumbling block here in Sacramento."
In the offseason of 1998, Richmond was traded along with Otis Thorpe to the Washington Wizards, which landed the Kings' with another top player in the Sacramento era - Chris Webber. Richmond spent three seasons with the Wizards and then won an NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2001-02 season, which would be his last in the league.
Since his illustrious 14-year NBA career, Richmond has spent time in the front office with the Warriors, alongside his former teammate and fellow Hall-of-Famer Chris Mullin.
Last year, Richmond surfaced as an investor to help purchase the Kings from the Maloof Family, as he joined a group of minority owners under majority owner Vivek Ranadive. He now serves as the Kings' Director of Pro-Personnel, where he again works alongside Mullin. He's also involved in his "Rock Life Campaign" - an anti-bullying program for teens and young adults that he and his wife, Juli, founded.
"It's a huge honor for the franchise," Ranadive said. "It's like things are falling into place and good things are happening to the Kings, the city of Sacramento and the fans.
"To have him as the first Sacramento Kings' Hall of Famer is appropriate. He was an incredible player, he's just a great symbol of the game, what's great about basketball, and Sacramento. And for me, it's a huge privilege to have him part of the Sacramento Kings organization."
Richmond was honored at halftime during the Kings' season finale alongside his family, Mullin, Ranadive, former Kings teammate Henry Turner and television analyst Jerry Reynolds, who originally traded for Richmond back in 1991.
Sacramento Mayor and former NBA All Star Kevin Johnson was eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame for the first time, but did not get elected. Richmond said Johnson deserves to be inducted, and believes he will join him one day. '
Richmond also believes his former Warriors teammate Tim Hardaway, who was a Hall of Fame finalist for the second straight year, is also deserving of being inducted.
Follow Sean Cunningham on Twitter: @News10Sean