Attacking Kim Mulkey Is Low-Hanging Fruit and Taints The Blessing LSU Has Been For The Rise Of Women’s Basketball

LSU coach Kim Mulkey has been a popular target for talking heads and social media mouthpieces looking to get involved in this recent women’s college basketball wave.

When the women’s NCAA Tournament reportedly outsells the men’s tournament by six times leading to March Madness’ opening week, that means all eyes are indeed on the women’s game. It’s an unprecedented time, which also raises the visibility of the players and the legendary coaches.

There are also stiff rivalries being formed between LSU, Iowa, South Carolina and the charismatic and successful coaches and star players at these universities. Players such as Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Flau’Jae Johnson and Dawn Staley’s undefeated crew of basketball wizards

All which leads to great interest and eyes locked in on women’s hoops. It’s what the women’s game has been asking for. But with a heightened visibility, naturally becomes more scrutiny from more people.

Mulkey has been dealing with this heat ever since former player Brittney Griner came out and said some controversial things about her former coach, accusing Mulkey of asking her to suppress her sexuality while at Baylor.

Mulkey has also been criticized by WNBA fans, analysts and a strong LBGTQ community for turning her back on Griner when the basketball star was locked away in Russia awaiting her trial on cannabis charges.

“I would never want to play for anyone like that,” NBA analyst Jalen Rose said at the time. “Hope all recruits are watching…I lost all respect for her (Mulkey).”

Mulkey became an easy target because of the frustration and hopelessness so many felt while Griner was detained. Mulkey, who by all accounts doesn’t have much of a relationship with Griner, became an easy target for not commenting on Griner’s imprisonment. Because she didn’t react the way others wanted she was attacked as if she was the one who’d locked Griner up.

Mulkey was subject of criticism again following a hotly-contested SEC championship loss to South Carolina where South Carolina player Kamilla Cardoso was ejected for shoving LSU’s Johnson to the floor, inciting a melee that saw Flau’Jae’s brother jumped over the scorer’s table and onto the court, before being arrested by police.

In the presser, Mulkey’s response was that she wished the 6-foot-7 Cardoso had pushed 6-foot-3 Angel Reese instead of the diminutive Johnson, insinuating that Reese would have beaten Cardoso in a fight. Mulkey’s response represented the fight and swag of her team, but there were people, including ESPN’s Shannon Sharpe, who criticized her for talking greasy instead of playing peacekeeper.

Would the criticism have been so harsh if Mulkey was a man? There’s also a double standard that a hard-nosed woman’s coach traditionally deals with, and it surfaced in this instance.

New Washington Post Report Aimed At Kim Mulkey

And in latest developments, in the midst of battling in the NCAA Tournament, Mulkey addressed reports that The Washington Post is planning to drop a bombshell story about her and used some nefarious measures to try to get the story done.

Mulkey spent four minutes of a Saturday press conference addressing the situation.

Mulkey accused the Post of writing an upcoming article she framed as a “hit piece” about her. According to Mulkey, the Post’s reporter has been working on the piece for the past two years and contacted multiple former coaches and players.

Of course, she found the timing of the story a distraction and a direct attack on her current program, and she’s fighting back, preparing to file a defamation lawsuit if needed.

“Listen, man, we’re not going to let one sleazy reporter distract us from what we’re trying to do. Absolutely not,” Mulkey said. “My kids didn’t even know I said that yesterday. That team is not involved in this. They were in shock when they saw all that on the internet.”

Mulkey Fighting A Smear Campaign, While Trying To Win Second Straight NCAA Championship

Mulkey’s fighting battles on several fronts. An intensified campaign to discredit her and possibly rehash issues of some skeletons in her closet while her team fights to keep the joy and try to make basketball history in the midst of women’s college basketball’s greatest moment.

LSU plays with grit and swag. Mulkey’s players reflect her tenacity and confidence and abrasive competitiveness. It’s become a thing to criticize the leadership, personalities and culture of this current LSU basketball class. One that is seeking a second straight national title and deserves the utmost respect.

We saw it in last year’s NCAA Tournament when the Angel Reese vs. Caitlyn Clark clash transcended basketball, triggered the race baiters and elevated women’s hoops to another stratosphere, along with a solid offseason of NIL deals, social media, Nike and Reebok promotion.

Somehow Kim Mulkey has caught the backlash for every move she makes pertaining to her successful program. Somewhere along the line, her authenticity is considered less valuable or admirable than Dawn Staley’s. Both are demanding, tenacious and reflect the mentality of their teams.

Staley probably runs a tighter ship, but Mulkey seems to be caught in a Catch-22. Damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t. When she punished an unfocused Angel Reese early in the season, people came to Reese’s defense and blamed Mulkey for being “jealous” of Reese’s newfound fame and money. They also were mad that she wouldn’t throw Reese under the bus and refused to share information about the star player’s suspension.

If she let Reese continue to backslide, LSU wouldn’t be another game closer to another Final Four. In hindsight, whatever happened with Mulkey and Reese was a positive result. Her star players are having fun, they know she has their back and lets them express themselves in a way that they are comfortable. Without sacrificing her standards.

She probably doesn’t get the credit she deserves.

Reese’s 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Johnson’s 21 clutch points, helped third-seeded LSU pull away for an 83-56, second-round victory over No. 11 seed Middle Tennessee on Sunday. Both star players showed their belief in Mulkey and how effective her method of coaching is.

“Coach Mulkey’s had our back all year, so we’ve got to have coach Mulkey’s back,” said forward Aneesah Morrow, who scored 19 points. “We’ve got to play hard and for one another – and that’s as simple as it is.”

Mulkey’s magic seems to be working, despite the new controversy surrounding LSU every game. The promotion for women’s hoops right now is through the roof and we know that every great story needs a villain and a hero. Depending on what side of the political or racial or financial divide one falls on, Mulkey’s status changes with every story and social media post.

What we do know is that she is one of the polarizing figures in women’s basketball, and her presence seems to be doing more good than bad for her program, players and the attention the game is getting.

Let Mulkey cook.

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