Louisiana has its share of basketball greats, both players and coaches. Superstars Pete Maravich and Shaquille O’Neal both played for LSU. Robert Parish played for Centenary College in the ‘70s, although his time there flew under the radar due to a harsh N.C.A.A. sanction against the school under the subsequently repealed “1.6” rule. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 and was also named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. Bob Pettit, Jr., the first basketball player ever to receive the NBA Most Valuable Player award, which he received four times, was born in Baton Rouge in 1932 and currently lives in New Orleans. Coach Dale Brown led the LSU Tigers to Final Four appearances in 1981 and 1986 and was named College Basketball Coach of the Year in 1986. Right now in New Orleans we’re hosting the national men’s basketball N.C.A.A. championship tournament at the Superdome through Monday night, April 2. Let’s take a look at another local basketball star, Kim Mulkey.
Ms. Mulkey, 49, and a former point guard, is from Robert, Louisiana, a small town near Hammond. 5’4”, flamboyant and competitive, she’s the head coach of the women’s basketball team at Baylor, 38-0 going into the 2012 championship season . Baylor’s Lady Bears beat Stanford 59-47 to advance to the finals, now the first N.C.A.A. team to win 40 games in a season. If they beat also-seeded No. 1 Notre Dame in the final game this Tuesday, Baylor will be the seventh women’s team to go through a season unbeaten. That’s pretty impressive, and so is Kim Mulkey. Growing up in Robert, she never missed a day of school from grades one through 12. She was valedictorian of her high school class and won four state basketball championships. She wanted to play in the boy’s all-star baseball tournament in high school, but being female kept her out of that game However, she went on to play college basketball at Louisiana Tech, where she won national championships in 1981 and 1982. She won an Olympic gold medal in 1984. Mulkey won N.C.A.A. Assistant Coach of the Year in 1988, while coaching at Louisiana Tech, and Coach of the Year at Baylor as head coach in 2005, thus making her the only woman to win an N.C.A.A. basketball championship as player, assistant coach and head coach. She plays with the big boys now! And she’s continuing the great Louisiana tradition of excellence in basketball.