MARCH 31, 1969
Former duke basketball star Jeff Mullins turned 60 this spring, but he is still a fixture on the courts near his home in Mooresville, N.C., on the outskirts of Charlotte. Those courts, however, are clay, not hardwood. An avid tennis player, Mullins stays in shape by working on his game four to five times a week. "I'm still fortunate enough to be able to move around pretty well," he says. "There was a time when I preferred golf, but you reach a point where you realize you need to start getting some exercise."
Mullins came to North Carolina in 1960 from Kentucky, where he had been named the state's Mr. Basketball after a stellar career at Lafayette High in Lexington. In three seasons playing forward at Duke, he averaged 21.9 points per game, and in 1962-63 and '63-64 he helped lead the Blue Devils to consecutive Final Four appearances, the first in school history. As a senior he was a first-team All-America and the ACC player of the year. That summer he was a member of the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic team in Tokyo.
Because of his height, the 6'4" Mullins had to learn to play guard in the NBA. He averaged 12.2 minutes and 5.1 points in 88 games with the St. Louis Hawks, who had drafted him with the fifth pick in the first round. He was taken by Chicago in the 1966 expansion draft and traded later that year to San Francisco, where for the next 10 seasons he provided a steadying influence in the Warriors' backcourt. He earned five All-Star selections, averaged 16.2 points per game and capped his career by helping the team, by then known as Golden State, win the 1975 NBA championship.
After his retirement in 1976 Mullins stayed out of basketball for nearly a decade, running a successful Chevrolet dealership in Apex, N.C. In 1985 he took over as the athletic director and basketball coach at UNC-Charlotte, inheriting a team that had gone 5-23 the previous season. In his first spin with the 49ers, Mullins went 8-20. That would be his only losing record. His teams compiled a regular-season record of 174-122 over the nine years that followed, earning three NCAA and two NIT tournament berths.
Mullins lives in Mooresville with his wife, Candy, to whom he has been married for 35 years. When he isn't playing tennis, he works as an independent commercial real estate developer, leasing and managing shopping center and office space. He and Candy recently purchased a winter home in Vero Beach, Fla. "I've slowed down a little bit," he says, "but I'm still busier than I really want to be."