HomeSportsBrittney Griner’s Coach From Baylor Catches Heat Over Reaction to WNBA Star’s US Return

Brittney Griner’s Coach From Baylor Catches Heat Over Reaction to WNBA Star’s US Return

by Suzanne Halliburton
. Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Brittney Griner’s college coach at Baylor told reporters how happy she was that her former star player had been released from a Russian prison farm. But Kim Mulkey still was catching heat for what she didn’t say earlier this year.

Mulkey, who now is with LSU, coached Griner at Baylor. The two won an NCAA championship in 2012. And when Russia released Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA star, Mulkey told ESPN that her prayers were answered.

“God is good. Prayers are powerful,” Mulkey said. “Brittney is on her way home where she belongs. Our prayers remain with her and her family as they recover and heal together.”

ESPN tweeted the quote from Mulkey along with remarks from Sandy Brondello, who coached Griner at Phoenix. The basketball world rejoiced that one of its best players ever was on home soil. In the WNBA off-season, Griner played for a team in Russia. In February, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine, Griner flew into Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport so that she could report to her team, UMMC Ekaterinburg. Russian police searched her baggage and found vape cartridges with a small amount of cannabis oil. She was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Kim Mulkey Declined to Comment on Brittney Griner Several Weeks Ago

Mulkey talked in the hours after Brittney Griner’s release. But back in late September, a reporter asked her point blank for her thoughts on Griner’s plight. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything from you on that,” the reporter remarked to Mulkey.

Then Mulkey snapped “And you won’t.” The star player and coach had a falling out almost a decade ago. Before the 2013 WNBA draft, Griner revealed, publicly, that she is a lesbian. A year later, Griner wrote that Mulkey told players to keep their sexuality a secret because it would hurt recruiting and the program.

Brittney Griner and Kim Mulkey were on good terms a decade ago. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Some Brittney Griner fans had long memories when they read Mulkey’s new comments. If she was praying for Griner, why not say so before the basketball star’s release?

“Been basking in the joy of the Brittney Griner news that she is free and on her way home,” a fan replied to the ESPN post. “At this time, I’m just happy to hear Kim say something loving for BG. I know there’s hurt & disappointment re KM, but in this moment we are all in our JOY!”

Another Griner fan wrote: “Kim Mulkey has to be kidding. She thought BG was gone forever. She’ll have to answer for that awful, cold comment.”

The comments didn’t get any kinder to Mulkey, who is considered one of the best basketball coaches in the country.

“Mulkey says that now,” replied another basketball fan. “But for the last few months she went out of her way to publicly say she didn’t want to comment. Mulkey’s views on Griner were clear once she didn’t need her on the team anymore.”