Kim Mulkey press conference: LSU coach rips Los Angeles Times over ‘villains’ article

Kim Mulkey and LSU found itself in stormy waters for much of its Sweet 16 clash with No. 2-seeded UCLA.

Ultimately, the Tigers strutted out of Albany’s MVP Arena as 78-69 victors. The storm didn’t settle however, instead manifesting into the press room following the contest.

Mulkey is never one to bite her tongue. She continued that trend on Saturday, blasting another national publication — this time the Los Angeles Times — for a recent opinion piece that appeared to belittle Mulkey and her team.

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It’s the second-high profile incident involving Mulkey and reporters this tournament; earlier in the week, Mulkey blasted the Washington Post for a “hit piece” profile prior to publication.

MORE: Mulkey shrugs off Washington Post profile

This one felt more pointed, however. Mulkey spent four minutes disputing the piece, written by staff writer Ben Bolch.

Here’s what you need to know about Mulkey’s latest comments.

Kim Mulkey press conference: What did Kim Mulkey say about the Los Angeles Times?

Mulkey fired off a four-minute rant surrounding the way the Tigers were painted in Bolch’s latest piece, published on March 29. The article, entitled “Commentary: UCLA-LSU is America’s sweethearts vs. its basketball villains”, argued that Mulkey and her team were a villainous foil to the kindness and innocence shown by its Sweet 16 foes, the Bruins.

Mulkey claimed that she wasn’t all that bothered with the way Bolch wrote about her. She’s  a head coach, after all, one who is paid millions of dollars to lead her team to victory. However, she took offense to the way Bolch depicted her roster, arguing that it was a sexist portrayal of the Tigers.

“There was some things in this commentary guys, that you should be offended by as women,” Mulkey said. “It was so sexist and they don’t even know it.”

“It was ‘good vs. evil’ in that game today. Evil? Called us ‘dirty debutantes’. Take your phone out right now and Google ‘dirty debutantes’ and tell us what it says. Dirty debutantes? Are you kidding me?”

Mulkey asserted that she wasn’t going to allow her players to be vilified like that. She also noted that Bolch’s portrayal of UCLA and its head coach, Cori Close, was inherently sexist.

“I’m not going to let you talk about 18-21 (year-old) kids in that tone,” Mulkey said.

The 61-year old coach appeared to call on the women reporters in the press room with her to speak out against such portrayals.

Mulkey also contested Bolch’s suggestion that LSU is “hellbent on dividing” the sport of women’s basketball instead of trying to cultivate it.

“Growing the game was a part of it. How many of you have been to Baton Rouge, Louisiana…and seen our games? How many of you have been to an SEC game when we played on the road? You want to talk about growing the game? Go see our crowds, people.”

The Tigers have drawn sellout crowds on eight different occasions this season.

Mulkey reaffirmed that she had no problem with folks having a distaste for her team and its dominance over the past few years. However, she argued that she couldn’t sit idly by while watching her team be flooded with “sexist” barbs from the likes of Bolch and the Los Angeles Times.

“You don’t have to like the way we play, you don’t have to like the way we trash talk, you don’t have to like any of that. We’re good with that. But I can’t sit up here as a mother and a grandmother and a leader of young people and allow somebody to say that.”

What’s in Ben Bolch’s Los Angeles Times story about Kim Mulkey and LSU?

Bolch penned an impassioned piece regarding the nature of LSU and UCLA’s teams. In his article, he argued that LSU represented the perfect foil to the Bruins — a brash, unapologetic unit that plays basketball the “wrong” way as compared to the Bruins, who he also called “America’s sweethearts.”

Bolch fired numerous digs at Mulkey, first highlighting her apparent desire to have former Baylor star Brittney Griner hide her sexual orientation during her collegiate career at Baylor. Bolch also questioned Mulkey’s decision to vehemently criticize Washington Post reporter Kent Babb for his recent profile on Mulkey prior to the article’s publication. He claimed that such a choice made the article all more notorious to the masses.

Despite his words towards Mulkey, it felt as if star Angel Reese and her Tigers teammates caught the focus of Bolch’s story. He claimed Reese is a “taunting” figure who can’t “get out of her way” on the floor.

Mulkey’s best player also can’t get out of her own way. A year after she taunted Caitlin Clark by giving the Iowa superstar the ring finger and mocking Clark’s hand-waving gesture late in the national championship game, Angel Reese is at it again. When Middle Tennessee’s Anastasiia Boldyreva fouled out of a second-round loss to LSU, Reese waved goodbye as a crying Boldyreva headed to the bench.

MORE: Angel Reese’s trash talk frustrates UCLA

Bolch’s perspective on Reese stands in strong opposition to the quotes offered by UCLA stars Lauren Betts and Charisma Osborne, both of whom have shared the floor with Reese on international duty with the USA:

“She’s an amazing teammate and I really enjoyed playing with her,” Betts said. “I think she’s an amazing person and obviously when it comes to basketball you’re trying to win, so it’s like, whatever you have to do to win, I don’t think that people should judge her for that.”

Said Osborne: “She’s really nice off the court as well and people don’t always see that.”

Bolch depicted the Bruins as a side that “operates in the saintly shadows while being as wholesome as a miniature stuffed Bruin mascot.”

By comparison, the Tigers were seemingly demonized, if not fully dehumanized. For Mulkey, that was simply an untenable situation which needed to be resolved as quickly as possible.

Ben Bolch apologizes for Los Angeles Times article about LSU, UCLA

Bolch issued an official apology for his column Monday, April 1. He took to social media to express regret about his portrayal of the two teams and his use of words that have a “deeply offensive connotation.”

“It has taken me two days to write this apology because I wanted to be as thoughtful as possible in my response to the situation I have created,” Bolch wrote. “These are words I have not been asked to write by anyone at my paper, but they need to be expressed so I can own up to my mistake.

“Words matter. As a journalist, no one should know this more than me,” he added. “Yet I have failed miserably in my choice of words. In my column previewing the LSU-UCLA women’s basketball game, I tried to be clever in my phrasing about one team’s attitude, using alliteration while not understanding the deeply offensive connotation or association. I also used metaphors that were not appropriate. Our society has had to deal with so many layers of misogyny, racism and negativity that I can now see why the words I used were wrong. It was not my intent to be hurtful, but I now understand that I terribly missed the mark.

“I sincerely apologize to the LSU and UCLA basketball teams and to our readers. UCLA, a school I have covered for nearly a decade, champions diversity and is known as a leader in inclusivity. However, I have not upheld that standard in what I wrote and I will do much better,” he concluded. “I am deeply sorry.”

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