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Mulkey’s mentor will watch on with pride as former-BU coach is inducted into Hall of Fame

Kim Mulkey (left) and longtime mentor Leon Barmore (crouching right).
Kim Mulkey (left) and longtime mentor Leon Barmore (crouching right).(Courtesy photo)
Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 6:23 PM CDT
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(KWTX) - When Kim Mulkey is inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame Saturday, her former coach and mentor, Leon Barmore, will be back home in Ruston, La., watching on with pride.

Barmore, now retired, is best known for his 35-year association with the Louisiana Tech University Lady Techsters, and he knows something about the honor and experience awaiting Mulkey; he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.

“It’s the pinnacle of our lifetime as a coach,” Barmore said.

“It was the greatest single event that I’ve ever had in my life and knowing that Kim is going to experience that after this is over, she’s going to realize what I told her, that this is something very, very special.”

Barmore and Mulkey have a relationship that goes back decades.

Mulkey played for Barmore at Louisiana Tech from 1980 to 1984.

The next year, Mulkey joined Barmore’s staff where she was an assistant from 1985 to 2000 before taking the head coaching job at Baylor.

“When she worked for me, she was like a sponge,” Barmore told KWTX.

“I gave her a lot of responsibilities and she developed herself but what she’s done at Waco and Baylor is really unbelievable.”

Barmore liked Mulkey’s style so much he followed her to Baylor working as her assistant from 2008-2011.

With an association that spans decades, he says, “I think we have a great respect and love for each other.”

Mulkey wanted Barmore to induct her, but he was unable to make the trip.

So, she asked Michael Jordan, who played in the 1984 Olympics with Mulkey.

“I don’t think Michael Jordan has every finished second before, has he?” Barmore joked.

“But it shows how much love and care Kim has for me and I really appreciate that.”

Barmore says Mulkey is very deserving of the highest honor in their profession, as the tell-it-like-it-is coach goes into the hall with the likes of the late Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan.

“You look at her record first,” Barmore said.

“It’s unbelievable the percentage and what she’s done. I just think she’s a self-made coach.   Her intensity, her competitive nature.  It’s in her DNA.  She made all those players accountable every day in practice.  She got out there and got it done.”

The new head coach of the Louisiana State University women’s basketball team will be inducted in a nationally televised ceremony on ESPN from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

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