Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey, front left, gives advise to Brittney Griner and the team during the practice at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, Saturday, March 31, 2012. Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post
Photo By Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Kim Mulkey Gives Cold Response to Brittney Griner’s Jersey Retirement Ceremony

On Sunday, Baylor University ensured that Brittney Griner will be the last Baylor women's basketball player to ever wear #42, with a heartwarming jersey retirement ceremony that Kim Mulkey didn't have many thoughts about.

Yet, people couldn't help but notice that Griner's college coach, Kim Mulkey — who has a strained relationship with Griner, to say the least — wasn't present for the ceremony.

Given that Mulkey's LSU Tigers team is in the midst of their own season — not to mention what we already know about Griner and Mulkey's relationship — this probably should have been expected. Although it's also worth noting that the LSU women's team both didn't have a game and were already in Texas on Sunday, as they were traveling to Texas A&M in College Station — less than 100 miles from Waco — for a game on Monday.

Regardless of whether Mulkey could have made the ceremony if she'd wanted to, the bottom line is that she wasn't there. 

Mulkey did, however, respond to a question about Griner's retirement ceremony during an LSU press conference last week — to which she said, "That's awesome. I bet it'll be a great environment."

Mulkey — who is usually quite outspoken — kept her sentiment short and somewhat cold; which is reflective of where her relationship with Griner has stood ever since Griner left Baylor for the WNBA over 11 years ago. In fact, Sunday was the first time Griner attended a Baylor basketball game since her playing days concluded. 

The reason behind Mulkey and Griner's now-nonexistent relationship is because Griner wasn't comfortable telling Mulkey that she was gay during their time at Baylor together. 

"I already knew the answer," Griner told ESPN's Kate Fagan back in 2013, when asked whether she asked Mulkey if she could come out publicly. "I didn't want to hear 'No.' It was a recruiting thing. The coaches thought if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn't let their kids play for Baylor."

Mulkey, who coached at Baylor from 2000-2021, also had a policy that requires a player to have graduated in order for her jersey to hang in the rafters. Yet, even after Griner returned to Baylor in 2019 to complete her bachelor of science degree, Baylor made no effort to honor Griner until Mulkey was replaced by Nicki Collen.

Aside from her former coach's absence, the rest of Baylor has clearly embraced Griner — as they absolutely should. Not only did Griner bring Baylor an undefeated, national championship-winning season during 2011-12, but she has become an ambassador for women's basketball on a global stage. 

Griner has long deserved her flowers — and we're glad to see that Baylor has finally given them to her. 

MORE: Kim Mulkey Got Steamrolled By Her Own Player