Already the owner of one national title and two wins short of a second, Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey now faces an off-court adversary.
Mulkey was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. She’ll continue coaching and responded to the revelation in fashion typical of her demeanor:
“When I smile it’s crooked and when I talk, and talk loud, the hollowness in my hearing is weird,” Mulkey said Thursday as she disclosed the ailment. “But it’s not going to keep me from hollering.”
At 38-0, there’s no reason to change who she is or how she operates. And perhaps the only hollering necessary is to keep Brittney Griner from leaving the bench and playing peacekeeper if a scuffle erupts in Denver.
School officials elaborated on the condition:
Baylor officials said Bell’s palsy is caused by a dysfunction of the facial nerve that results in the inability to control facial muscles on the affected side. The condition, believed by many doctors to be caused by a virus, usually has a rapid onset of partial or complete paralysis that often occurs overnight.
Research indicates that while initially uncomfortable, symptoms are temporary for the majority of patients. Treatment is widely available, in steroids for example, but plenty of patients experience a return to health solely based on time.
No women’s (or men’s for that matter) basketball team has ever finished 40-0. To accomplish the feat, Baylor must defeat two top seeds as the Women’s Final Four is straight chalk.
It seems unfair to witness failing health distract so many fantastic coaches this season (Tennessee’s Pat Summitt and Alzheimer’s) but Mulkey remains steadfast in the end goal.
Her discomfort won’t stop Baylor from reaching the pinnacle, a historic one, of their sport.