Mulkey sent Jordan a note, thanking her fellow 1984 Los Angeles Olympics gold medalist for his willingness to be with her for the moment. Jordan will also present Bryant on Saturday night, and is likely to play a role in whatever tribute the Hall comes up with to commemorate the life of the five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers who he considered a little brother.
“I’m very respectful of who Michael is and respectful of the honor that he would do that for me,” Mulkey said.
Stevens retired from Bentley last year after 34 seasons at the Waltham, Massachusetts school and 44 years as a college coach. She won 1,058 games; the only women’s college coaches ever to win more are Tara VanDerveer, Auriemma and Pat Summitt. Vivian Stringer is 12 wins shy of Stevens’ win total; it’s going to be many, many years before another women’s coach even gets close to that number.
“You look at all those coaches. They are huge names in the sport,” Stevens told The Associated Press in 2018 before her milestone 1,000th victory. “I don’t see the connection with me and them. I found my niche and I don’t need any limelight. I don’t need anything like that. What I’m trying to do in a small way is create a program that can be successful and that’s it.”
Bryant would have loved that approach, too.
He could champion women’s basketball and the WNBA sometimes without saying a word. The best-selling piece of WNBA merchandise is an orange hooded sweatshirt with the league’s logo emblazoned on the chest; sales of that hoodie started going wild when Bryant wore it while attending a Lakers-Dallas game with Gianna in December 2019. After his death, sales soared again.