The Brittney Griner era ended Sunday night in Oklahoma City. Griner, Baylor’s 6-foot-8 giant who is to women’s basketball what Wilt Chamberlain was to men’s basketball 55 years ago, went out with class. Baylor lost to Louisville 82-81 in a massive upset, but Griner played maybe not well by her standards, but fiercely and with pride and with dignity.
The same cannot be said of her coach. Kim Mulkey is a polarizing figure. But there can be no polar opinions on Mulkey’s actions Sunday night after Louisville’s victory. Mulkey embarrassed her sport.
Mulkey asked media to query her about the officiating, then ripped the officials for a variety of calls and the overall tone of the game. “The game started out way too physical,” Mulkey said. “I thought all three of (the officials), if they go past this round of officiating, it’ll be sad for the game.”
You want to know why leagues and organizations and conferences discipline coaches and players who criticize officiating? That’s why, right there. Because they will lose their minds and question the integrity of the game. Which is why Mulkey should be in line for a hefty fine.
Mulkey’s actions weren’t limited to the press conference. When Baylor was whistled for an offensive foul late in the game — not too long after Louisville coach Jeff Walz was given a technical foul for sitting on the scorer’s table — Mulkey went nuts. She tried to rip off her jacket, though it didn’t come off all that easy. She appeared to be out of her mind. No joke, I thought she was going to disrobe right there on the court.
Mulkey is a great coach. Of that there is no doubt. And I know coaches are so sold-out to their ballteams, that emotions quickly take over in the heat of games. So I’ll give her a pass for the on-court theatrics, though I would have given her a technical, too. Losing your cool should be the standard definition of what warrants a technical, and Mulkey lost her cool.
But the press conference tirade, 15, 20, 30 minutes after the game, whatever it was, is inexcusable. That’s not emotions taking over. That’s entitlement. That’s nonsense. Coaches have been losing big games for decades, and many of them are still peeved well after the game, often at the refs. But most of them, male and female, have the grace to lose with dignity.
Mulkey did not. She’s a great example of why certain rules are necessary. Left unfettered, you can’t trust some coaches to act right.