Two former St. John’s standouts spent their Sunday giving back to the United States military.
Ex-Johnnies Chris Mullin and Felipe Lopez led a group of ex-basketball players hosting clinics for local military families via the Hoops for Troops program.
The program, launched in 2004 by USA Basketball and in 2012 by the NBA, is a collaborative effort to honor active and retired military and their families.
“I’ve got so much respect for the servicemen and women,” Mullin said in a phone interview. “It’s just a privilege and honor to give back a little time.”
Mullin and Lopez will be joined at West Point by the rest of Team USA on Monday, when the men’s national team visits and holds a practice in front of military members and their families.
“It’s a blessing,” Lopez said. “We actually take a lot of things for granted. I just feel so blessed to be able to step in and provide what I can.”
Mullin and Lopez also shared their thoughts on St. John’s. Both think the Red Storm can compete with the top teams in the new Big East conference.
“I think the league is a little more favorable now,” Mullin said. “The Big East has changed; some of the powerhouses have moved on so that should be advantageous.”
Added Lopez: “It’s wide open.”
Mullin, a Hall of Famer, had one suggestion.
“St. John’s, over the years, I think the success has come from having home-grown guys," Mullin said. "It may work another way, but the way it has worked (in the past) is getting the New York City kids to stay home. The old-school way, the way coach (Louie) Carnesecca (did it). The more things change, the more they stay the same.”