One afternoon a few years ago, a colleague approached my office and mentioned that he had just met someone I knew at a meeting.
“I hope he dies,” I cried, stunned both of us. My co-worker blinked slowly as I tried, in vain, to calm down and give context to my outburst—the man at the meeting had irreparably damaged my mother’s personal and professional life and the hurt was still cruel.
I understand what it’s like to hate someone very strongly. And I also understand the desire to keep one’s mouth shut about it, whether in the vein “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” or to avoid an inappropriate slip like mine.
That seems to be the situation Kim Mulkee, the Louisiana State University women’s basketball coach, found herself in. Some call it expatriates -Her relationship with her former player, Britney Grenier, who played for Mulkey at Baylor University and led the team to an undefeated season and a national championship in 2012. Mulki remained silent about Grenier being held for nearly eight months in Russian prison, even while the rest of the female soccer players were packed Women’s Basketball Loud To keep Greiner’s name on top, he lobbied elected officials, including President Joe Biden, to bring it home.
Greiner was arrested at Moscow airport in February for carrying e-cigarette cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage, then Convicted in August Possession and smuggling of drugs, he was sentenced to nine years in prison. The US State Department announced her unfair detention.
Things got even weirder on Monday during a press conference when a reporter from The Daily Advertiser In Lafayette, Los Angeles, Mulkey was asked for comment, adding that he doesn’t think he’s seen anything from Mulkey in Griner’s position.
“You won’t” Molki’s reply before moving on to another topic.
Mulke’s bold silence is a startling reaction from the player’s former coach, regardless of his personal disdain for each other. The relationship fell apart after Greiner graduated, He came out as gay on Sports Illustrated In 2013, and, in Later article on ESPNdescribed the environment in which Baylor prohibits homosexuality in her student handbook, and Mulkey tells her to keep quiet about her identity.
Naturally, reporters will ask Mulki about Grenier again. And perhaps next time, Mulkey will respond, realizing how poorly the lack of response reflects on the program and the potential impact on her recruitment.
To help Mulkey with his prep, I’ve come up with some answers to Griner’s annoying question that you might find palatable:
- “I wish her a safe return home.” This is short, gentle, and non-binding.
- “I pray for the safe return of any American detained abroad.” This catches up with some notes: it mixes in some flag-waving and some praying, and it’s even more non-binding than the first comment.
- “clearlyI hope any American can come home safely.” Feel like you’re mingling in a dash of grunt? Choose this to shut down anyone who might question your intention.
- “I imagine it is difficult for her loved ones.” Note: You don’t have to identify them (like Griner’s wife, ack!), nor do you have to include yourself on this list. Make it ambiguous.
- “Actually, I just commented, and nothing has changed: I pray that Britney returns safely.” This one is particularly satisfying because it provides an opportunity to correct any reporter who asks the question. Although it has not released an official statement, Mulki responded to a question on Tiger Raj Radio in June By saying that she does not make general comments about it but that she is praying for Griner and “I want her home safely.”
Of course, it is also important for public figures to remember what Not To say, so here are some comments to avoid:
- “I’m just focused on next season.” Perhaps not a fruitful comment.
- “At least that’s better than wearing a mask.” while Mulki He famously threw “her damned mask” In 2021 while presenting as a coach at LSU after a few months of widespread use Embarrassingly playing with her mask During the NCAA Championships, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison.
- “Don’t ask me that. I’m not asking. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business. Whoever you are. I don’t care to know.” oh wait. Mulki Already use this When asked if she had a gay athlete on her team.
It’s tough territory, navigating schadenfreude as a public figure. But with a little practice and a reminder that Griner is in a life-or-death mode, we hope Mulkey will find her way to offer her former player support – or at least safe journeys.