As per usual, Dawn Staley keeps it classy while Kim Mulkey keeps it trashy

OPINION: When discussing a scuffle that broke out between their teams, South Carolina's Staley gave a perfect response by offering an apology, while LSU's Mulkey seemed to suggest more violence was the answer.

(L-R) Dawn Staley (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images); Kim Mulkey (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

In case you forgot what type of person she is, LSU coach Kim Mulkey sent a reminder over the weekend.

It proved once again that she’s far from being in South Carolina coach Dawn Staley’s neighborhood.

Maybe you saw clips of Sunday’s basketball game between undefeated South Carolina and bitter rival LSU, foes who have captured the last two national titles. The Gamecocks won — giving Staley four straight (second this season) against Mulkey — solidifying their No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press poll while leaving LSU unchanged at No. 8. 

But most tongue-wagging afterward focused on a melee late in the fourth quarter when South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardosa shoved LSU’s Flau’jae Johnson to the floor. Players and a few fans, including Johnson’s brother, rushed toward center court as emotions flared. Some accounts described it as a brawl but nary a punch was thrown. Hardly a Malice in the Palace.

This was more of a kerfuffle than a tussle, but the shove and resulting commotion was a bad look for impressionable onlookers. Such behavior can’t be condoned by responsible adults who are charged with guiding young athletes. The incident overshadowed the game and had to be addressed. 

Staley took the proper posture during a postgame on-court interview. “I just want to apologize to the basketball community,” she said. “I want to apologize for us playing a part in that. That’s not who we are and that’s not what we’re about.”

Mulkey offered her thoughts from the podium and hit the right notes … at first: “No one wants to be a part of that; no one wants to see that ugliness,” she said.  

“But I can tell you this. I wish (Cardoso) would’ve pushed Angel Reese.”

Excuse me? 

What matter of crass foolishness is that? Mulkey based her comment on Cardosa being nine inches taller than the 5-foot-10 Johnson. “Don’t push somebody that little,” Mulkey said. “That was uncalled for in my opinion.”

But why wish that Cardoso pushed Reese instead? 

That wish suggests that Mulkey wanted an escalation of violence. It sends a message to Reese and her teammates that the coach expects retaliation, not conciliation when an opponent loses their cool. That’s the exact opposite message we try to instill in youngsters beginning in pre-K.

“Let those two girls who were jawing, let them go at it,” Mulkey said.


Maybe with other players forming a ring?

Mulkey called the incident ugly and uncalled for in one breath but desired the episode under different circumstances in the next breath. You don’t wish someone committed a wrong against Person A instead of Person B. You simply condemn the wrong and wish it never happened, period. 

LSU’s flamboyant coach has a disturbing taste for violence. As the coach at Baylor, where the football program was awash in rape culture, Mulkey said she was “tired of people talking about it” and encouraged fans to punch detractors. “Knock them right in the face,” she said.

She didn’t have that same energy to fight when former Baylor star Brittney Griner was held in Russia on trumped-up charges. Or when the world was battling COVID.  Or when Reese was slandered during an unexplained suspension this season. 

Mulkey’s mouth is always unfiltered when it serves her purposes, but not so much otherwise.

“Do you realize there had been only one foul called on each team with two minutes left in the fourth quarter?” Mulkey said Sunday, serving the refs a slice of blame. “Are you kidding me? That might’ve created some of that.”

None of her players went crazy during the altercation, which can’t be said about Johnson’s brother, Trayon Milton. He jumped over a rail and hurdled the scorer’s table to join the fracas, briefly putting hands on Cardosa before being detained. He was arrested and charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct. 

They could’ve added “being a knucklehead” to the list. 

His sister actually started the mess. Frustrated after committing a turnover, she pushed a gloating South Carolina player before Cardosa delivered the boom. The shoves differed greatly in force and follow-through, making Cardosa the chief culprit. Her reflection indicates which coach is hers.

“I would like to extend my sincerest apologies for my actions during today’s game,” she tweeted afterward. “My behavior was not representative of who I am as a person or the South Carolina program, and I deeply regret any discomfort or inconvenience it may have caused.”

Just like Staley’s response, Cardosa’s was all class. 

Conversely, Mulkey’s attitude was what we’ve come to expect from the Hall of Fame coach:

Pure trash.

Deron Snyder, from Brooklyn, is an award-winning columnist who lives near D.C. and pledged Alpha at HU-You Know! He’s reaching high, lying low, moving on, pushing off, keeping up, and throwing down. Got it? Get more at

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