‘It’s humbling,’ Mulkey says after whirlwind Hall of Fame induction weekend

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 5:54 PM CDT
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(KWTX) - Kim Mulkey returned to her home in Waco after a whirlwind weekend being inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Casino and resort in Uncasville, Conn.

Mulkey entered the hall presented by Michael Jordan during a nationally televised event on ESPN Saturday night.

“What a night, what a weekend,” Mulkey told KWTX following the induction.

“The who’s who of basketball. Just unbelievable.”

Mulkey flew to Connecticut in a private jet with her family, including daughter, Makenzie, son-in-law, Clay Fuller, grandson, Kannon, and mother, Dru.

Many of her longtime staff members, including coaches at Baylor who will follow her to LSU, were also on board.

Mulkey had a jam-packed weekend.

She spent her first few hours Thursday signing memorabilia for the Hall of Fame, including ‘Kim Mulkey’ trading cards and basketballs.

She also sat down for an interview, which will air at the Hall of Fame as visitors arrive.

Friday morning, the coach enjoyed breakfast in the ‘Kim Mulkey’ locker room at the resort.

Each of the Class of 2020 inductees, including the family of Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Texas WNBA legend Tamika Catchings, were given a banquet room where their invited guests could hang out and eat.

The first formal celebration was held Friday evening where Mulkey received her Hall of Fame ring at an awards gala and dinner.

She was also presented her official Hall of Fame jacket.

The inductees were asked to choose a person to put the coat on them.

Mulkey chose her daughter, Makenzie, who played for her and was on her staff at Baylor.

Having Makenzie put my hall of fame jacket on me was so special. I tried not to cry. It was such a personal touch to the entire ceremony,” she said.

Mulkey’s son, Kramer, would have also been on stage, but didn’t arrive until the next day because he’s in season for professional baseball.

Friday night following the ring and jacket ceremony, Mulkey attended an after-party celebration for inductees whose guests included Jeanie Buss, Paul Pierce and Charles Barkley.

The Enshrinement Ceremony took place Saturday.

Mulkey started the day with breakfast, then hair and makeup in her hotel room.

From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. she attended a VIP reception in a ballroom at the hotel for inductees and their invited guests which included dinner and drinks.

There was also a video shown of the highlights of each of the inductees’ careers which included video of Mulkey coaching at Baylor and a message of support from former President George W. Bush.

Once the reception ended, the Mohegan Arena opened for the televised induction.

In attendance for the big event was everyone from Magic Johnson and David Robinson to Bill Walton, Bill Russell, Isaiah Thomas, and Julius Erving, better known as Dr. J.

Each inductee was asked to choose someone or multiple people to present them.

Those presenters had to be past members of the HOF.

Mulkey first asked her former and now retired college coach Leon Barmore from Louisiana Tech to present her, but when he was unable to attend, she asked Michael Jordan, her fellow basketball Olympian in 1984.

Jordan escorted Mulkey to the stage and smiled on as she thanked him for the great honor.

“Michael, I’m incredibly honored. I guess the last time we stood this close we were walking out of the ’84 Olympics and we were a hell of a lot younger looking and probably a lot of skinner,” Mulkey laughed.

Mulkey’s theme throughout her speech was about giving credit to others for her success.

She praised those who coached her, including former Baylor and Louisiana Tech head coach Sonja Hogg.

She also praised her many players.

“I got to coach some of the greatest players. No coach stands here without having great players,” she said.

“I’m a very small part of the basketball world because those players chose to listen to you or ignore you and I’ve been blessed that they believed in me. They embraced me and they allowed me to push them beyond places they thought they could go.”

Mulkey thanked former Baylor Athletic Director Tom Stanton and former President Robert Sloan for taking a chance when they offered her the head coaching job in 2000.

She also gave a shoutout to the many Baylor fans who traveled to Connecticut to support her.

Former Baylor President Ken Starr and his wife Alice were among them.

“For the last 21 years I’ve coached at one institution,” Mulkey said. "

“Many coaches have to pack suitcases because they either get fired or they move on to the next best job. I’ve had the best time of my life at Baylor University. "

LSU, where Mulkey just accepted the head coaching job, and Louisiana Tech, where she played, both sent private planes full of guests including administrators and donors.

The enshrinement ceremony was rescheduled a few times because of COVID-19 and was moved to Connecticut from Massachusetts in order to have more space because of restrictions, but Mulkey didn’t leave without making the one-hour drive to Springfield, Mass., to tour the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.

She said she was in awe Sunday morning as she saw the display for the Class of 2020 inductees, which included pictures and video highlights of her coaching career.

A display case is already up which features the blue suit and stilettos she wore in the Lady Bears 2019 National Championship win over Notre Dame in Tampa, Fla.

Kim said the weekend the young girl from Tickfaw, La., was inducted into the Hall of Fame on a worldwide stage is something she’ll never forget.

" (I was) just looking around like a kid in a candy store, “Mulkey said.

“You’re looking at the best of the best in basketball and just looking at all my heroes and the people I watched growing up. It’s humbling.”

“It’s the granddaddy of them all.”

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