Kim Mulkey’s response on Brittney Griner is more disappointing than it is surprising
Brittney Griner’s wrongful detainment in Russia has truly revealed how much she means to so many people.
She’s loved, she’s idolized, she’s adored. Everyone has kind things to say about the sort of person she is. They’re constantly rooting for her safe return home and, with every passing day, the general public questions more and more why it hasn’t happened yet.
None of that applies to her former head coach at Baylor, Kim Mulkey, who doesn’t seem to see Brittney Griner as more than a career stepping stone.
She has nothing good to say about her former player. She has no words of encouragement for her family or a kind sentiment to share to the public. In fact, apparently, she has nothing to say at all.
Mulkey, now LSU’s coach, was asked about Griner’s situation in a recent press conference this week. The reporter, Cory Diaz, noted that he hadn’t heard anything from her on the Griner front which, you know, is a reasonable question considering the fact that Mulkey coached her for four years at Baylor.
What seemed to catch everyone off guard was the fact that Mulkey didn’t have anything to say.
“Diaz: I wanted to get your thoughts on the Brittney Griner situation. I don’t think I’ve seen anything from you on that…
Mulkey: And you won’t. I’ll answer the first one for you.”
There you have it, folks. We won’t hear from Mulkey on Griner. Not a peep. Nothing at all despite the fact that Griner brought her an NCAA championship in a season where they amassed a 40-0 record together.
And what a shame that is. It’s truly a tragedy to see a coach stoop to such a low level when it comes to one of her former players.
What makes this worse is that Baylor’s current coach, Nicki Collen, showed nothing but grace when asked about Griner.
“Those that have been around me know I get pretty emotional…I think BG, first of all, is human first. I think this is a human rights issue. No one’s saying she didn’t make a mistake. None of us are perfect. But I guess I would wanna know if I did something and was stuck in a foreign country, what it was, what it wasn’t. I think we all know that 10 years is a long time. I see her as a mother, as a sister, as a spouse, as a daughter, as an unbelievable ambassador for the game of basketball.”
I’d love to call this surprising, but that would be a lie. It’s not shocking. It shouldn’t catch anyone off guard. This is just who Kim Mulkey is and who she always has been. She’s shown us that at every turn.
After all, this is the same coach that barred her team from talking about their sexuality, according to Griner herself. The former Baylor star revealed how Mulkey and the program, overall, weren’t welcoming to gay athletes during her time there.
That’s not something a loving coach would do. Those aren’t things a loving coach would ask of one of their players, no matter what their skill level is. It’s not something a program that actually cared about its students would allow.
On top of that, this isn’t the first time Mulkey has been silent on important issues — particularly when it comes to Black players. After George Floyd was killed by police officers in 2020, Mulkey had nothing to say while the rest of the sports world spoke out against police violence. Chloe Jackson, a former player, called her out on it. Yet, still. Nothing has changed. History is just repeating itself.
So, yes. Mulkey is sincere in her apathy. She’s committed in her silence. She genuinely doesn’t care about Brittney Griner or her well-being. The truth is she never actually has and it’s been plain to see for years.
It’s not surprising. If anything, it’s disappointing. Coaches are supposed to be leaders. They’re the ones who their athletes are supposed to look to for guidance and wisdom. And when it comes to their former athletes, they show compassion. Any good coach you’ve ever had is just one phone call away.
Yet here Kim Mulkey is with one of her former players wrongfully detained in a foreign country, and her only response is still hostility.
I’m sure her new recruits at LSU are going to love this.