Kim Mulkey’s journey from Tangipahoa Parish to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

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(WGNO)

HAMMOND, La. (WGNO) – April 7, 2019, The Baylor Women’s Basketball team won an 82-81 thriller over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the National Championship game.

 Fast forward one year,  their title defense may have been cut short but their team still has a reason to celebrate.

600 wins, 20 conference titles, and 3 national championships were more than enough to solidify Kim Mulkey’s place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Saturday, Mulkey was named a member of the 2020 class along-side NBA legends Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.

“To even be considered is an honor but to be inducted with this particular class with these accomplishments is special,” said Kim Mulkey.

Mulkey’s basketball success started at Hammond High School, where she won four consecutive state titles as a player in the late 1970’s.

That was also during the time of public school integration in Tangipahoa parish.

“I grew up in a rural area in the country. If you mailed me a letter it would have Tickfaw, Louisiana on it. Integration hit when I was going into the 2nd grade so I was bussed to all of the public schools in Hammond. So, each year there was a different grade at each school so I have been to every school in Hammond because of integration. I have so much in that area that is home to me.”

Her basketball journey as a player continued at Louisiana Tech.

In 4 years, Mulkey was an All-American, National Champion, and Olympic Gold Medalist.

She began coaching in 1985, a move she wasn’t even considering at the time.

“I was talked into coaching by the former president at Louisiana Tech, F.J. Taylor and Coach Leon Barmore. Here I am 25 years later at Baylor and 35 years later coaching. It’s a profession that has the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but it has just been a perfect fit for me.”

The rest is history.

The 2020 Naismith Hall of Fame announcement was always scheduled to coincide with the NCAA Women’s Final Four and National Championship games that were going to be held here in New Orleans.

 Once the Coronairus dampened those plans, Mulkey’s focus shifted to her team.

“Those players and coaches are the reason I’m being inducted. It would have been a lot of fun in New Orleans or wherever to put your arms around them and hug them instead of them texting congratulations to me. I think the true celebration starts when we all get back on track, know when the hall of fame will be, everyone gets back to work and I get to see my players and coaches again. That’s when you celebrate things.”

Kim Mulkey led the bears to a 28-2 record this season.

They were one of the top 4 teams in the country and expected to be a number 1 seed in the Women’s NCAA Tournament.

by: Richie Mills

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