Basketball Twitter Is Baffled By The Washington Post Kim Mulkey Hit Piece, Which Turned Out Not To Be A Hit Piece At All

Kim Mulkey

LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey preemptively attacked The Washington Post when rumors surfaced that a hit piece on her would drop sometime during the NCAA Tournament. She was even blamed by some for not doing enough to free Brittney Griner from prison in Russia. Good luck making sense of that one.

Well anyway, WaPo missed a huge opportunity here. They could’ve released Kent Babb’s paywall-restricted deep dive on Mulkey on April Fools’ Day and really caused some chaos. If LSU and Iowa advance to the Elite Eight, it’d pit Mulkey’s team against Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes on that fickle holiday.

Instead, Babb’s article dropped on Saturday and landed with a thud. Mulkey was making fun of it before her Tigers took on UCLA, and presumably before she had time to read it.

Mulkey just seems like kind of a jerk. She’s been a raging success as a coach, though, with a two-decade tenure at Baylor preceding her stint at LSU that began in 2021. If you want to be ultra generous, she’s the less-accolades ladies college hoops equivalent of Bill Belichick. There’s a method to her supposed madness, or maybe moodiness is a better way to put it.

Also worth noting the bias here from the jump. Babb penned a critical profile of Tigers head football coach Brian Kelly. He apparently has a bone to pick with the athletic department in Baton Rouge for reasons unknown to me.

As for the substance of Babb’s Mulkey “hit piece”, well, it just seems like the long-tenured coach is more “old-fashioned” than anything else.

There’s a good chunk of quotes from Griner, where she asserts that Mulkey didn’t fully accept her for who she was because of her sexual orientation and tattoos. Others who played for Mulkey or were in her orbit said she encouraged players to downplay/hide their sexuality if they were gay. “Multiple players” said shame was a tactic Mulkey frequently deployed as motivation, and in some specific cases, fat-shaming. She also recommended players seek out assistant coaches to talk through any hurt feelings because she essentially didn’t have time for dealing with players’ emotions.

Is any of this information a major surprise? Some of what Babb highlights is already public knowledge, such as when Mulkey defended ex-Baylor football coach Art Briles amid the program’s off-field scandal, which she apologized for. Then there’s mention of her resistance to COVID protocols. Again, already on public record.

This piece on Mulkey is thousands of words, and unless I’m missing something, that’s about the most damning stuff in there. Does it suck that she’s seemingly not as tolerant of diversity you’d hope? Sure. Would you like a coach to ideally connect with players on a more personal level? I would. But hey, you don’t go to play for Kim Mulkey if you don’t expect some extremely tough love. That’s like going into a steakhouse and expecting a predominantly vegan menu.

Mulkey has carried a fiery reputation with her for her entire career. Nothing truly illuminating to see here. Not saying that Babb isn’t a good writer or reporter, because he clearly did his legwork and due diligence. What he wrote is just not what anyone would categorize as a “hit piece.”

The reactions on Basketball Twitter reflect how the would-be Mulkey hit piece doesn’t really have any teeth. Like it’s so toothless that I don’t think Mulkey has any grounds at all for the lawsuit she’s threatening The Washington Post with.

I know I said before that it’s a bummer this piece didn’t drop on April Fools’ Day so that the Internet could have a field day with spinning off a bunch of fake news from it.

Now that we know the substance of it, I’m actually a little relieved that Mulkey and LSU can just focus on basketball, because after a 78-69 victory over UCLA on Saturday, they’re one Iowa win away from the Elite Eight matchup everyone wants to see.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock