NEW YORK -- Chris Mullin considers trying to turn around the St. John's basketball program an "obligation."
The school's all-time leading scorer was introduced as its new coach Wednesday in front of an adoring audience of several hundred fans at Carnesecca Arena. They roared when he confidently proclaimed that the Red Storm can return to the level of his playing days, when he led the team to the 1985 Final Four.
"No doubt about it," he said. "That's why I'm here."
The 51-year-old Mullin has no coaching experience, but he believes his experience in NBA front offices prepared him well. He spent the last two seasons working for the Sacramento Kings as a senior adviser. Before that, he was the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Golden State Warriors.
Pro franchises now must develop rookies who come into the league as raw teenagers, Mullin said. Attend an NBA workout these days, he added, and "you would think it was a high school or college practice."
Mullin spoke to players-turned-coaches including Larry Bird, Steve Kerr and Mark Jackson as he decided to take the job. The biggest piece of advice: the importance of hiring the right assistants.
Mullin has already added Matt Abdelmassih from Iowa State, who helped Fred Hoiberg achieve the feat Mullin is trying to match: building a winner at his alma mater with no previous head coaching experience.
Mullin replaces Steve Lavin, who agreed to leave last week after five seasons in which the Red Storm reached the NCAA Tournament twice. Mullin said he was first contacted about the job Friday.
Though New York City isn't the recruiting hotbed it was when Mullin was a high school star here, he said he still expects to fill his roster with local players.
"I understand the landscape has changed a little bit," Mullin said. "I still think St. John's needs to be first and foremost a New York City team."
Mullin was a five-time All-Star with Golden State and a member of the U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning "Dream Team" in 1992 - he also won a gold in 1984, playing for Bobby Knight. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
Mullin said he wasn't worried about tarnishing his legacy as a St. John's great.
"There's been other players that have not done well coaching," he said, "and they're still great, great players."