by Stevie Wonders

LSU and Louisiana knew what they were getting when Kim Mulkey was hired to coach the  women’s basketball team at the state’s flagship university.

Even as a player at Louisiana Tech, Mulkey was fiery, feisty on the court. She’s been the same during her decades of coaching. 

And we’ve come to know, well before she arrived at LSU, that she puts her heart and soul into coaching young women to win — with her, and later.

We want her LSU Tigers to win, but I don’t think most fans want a win-at-all-costs, Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys”-era reputation.

Back in the day, Rick Mahorn, Dennis Rodman and Isaiah Thomas played fierce defense. Their games included lots of elbows thrown, scuffles and bodies on the floor.

Sunday’s LSU-South Carolina game was a rough-and-tough good game — until late in the fourth quarter. LSU guard Flau’jae Johnson was dribbling when Gamecocks freshman guard MiLaysia Fulwiley snatched the ball. With a smart move to prevent an easy layup, Johnson fouled Fulwiley. South Carolina forward Ashlyn Watkins then shouted at Johnson, who shoved Watkins. South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso violently shoved Johnson, knocking her to the ground. Then all hell broke loose as they scrapped, Bad Boys-style.

LSU was losing the Southeastern Conference title game when some players on the floor and on the benches were ejected. Mulkey blamed the situation on poor officiating — and a big height difference.

“It’s ugly. It’s not good,” Mulkey said after the loss. “No one wants to be a part of that. No one wants to see that ugliness. But I can tell you this: I wish (Cardoso) would have pushed Angel Reese. Don’t push a kid — you’re 6-8. Don’t push somebody that little (Johnson is 5-foot-10). That was uncalled for, in my opinion. Let those two girls that were jawing, let them go at it.”

Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley was more classy. She apologized. And, in a diplomatic way, she said she expects better from her players.

“I just want to apologize to the basketball community,” she said. “You know, when you’re playing a championship game like this in our league, things get heated. No bad intentions. … Their emotions got so far ahead of them that sometimes these things happen. So I want to apologize for us playing a part in that because that’s not who we are and that’s not what we’re about.”

This from a woman who has been called a villain for coaching aggressive teams.

Mulkey doubled down Tuesday morning on the “Off the Bench” show on WNXX-FM, 104.5. 

“This is who I am,” said Mulkey, repeating a line she’s used numerous times in her career.

That is true, but she was oh so wrong to suggest that the players should’ve scrapped without better officiating. Coaches should coach for life.

LSU lost to the Gamecocks, 79-72. Mulkey lost respect.

Not many will remember the score. Thousands will remember that Mulkey seemed to endorse a Bad Boys approach — if that’s what it takes to win.

Like it or loathe it, that’s who Mulkey is.

6 thoughts on “Kim Mulkey fights to win, but oh so wrong to encourage ‘Bad Boys’ fighting”
  1. I think the whole thing got blown out of proportion. And the refs took to long to figure it it which made it more dramatic. Good for the ladies game though

  2. Dawn Staley was the aggressor. She threatened the LSU girls and should have been arrested with that thug from South Carolina that jumped on the floor and attacked the SC girls

  3. Both sides were wrong. The tall South Carolina woman pushed the hardest and deserved to be ejected. Flojay apologized. But I liked the excitement of it all

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