‘I never even felt bad’

Oct 18, 2022; Mountain Brook, Alabama, US; LSU Tigers women’s head coach Kim Mulkey speaks to the media at the SEC Media days. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

LSU women’s head coach Kim Mulkey is ready to lead to reigning champion Tigers through another season. (Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports). (USA TODAY USPW / reuters)

LSU women’s basketball head coach Kim Mulkey revealed she underwent a heart procedure this summer while talking to reporters Monday during her first media availability of the 2023-24 season.

The 61-year-old had the procedure in late June after going to see a doctor for a separate, minor issue. Instead, she learned she was at risk for a heart attack due to a coronary artery that had 95-99% blockage.

“I never even felt bad,” Mulkey said, via ESPN. “I’m still kind of in shock that we accidentally found this. So my message in sharing this is, if you’re over 50, go get a stress test.

She was “bored” enough to go to the doctor after leading LSU to the NCAA title in May. Shortly into the offseason, she noticed a persisting tingle in the top of her middle finger.

Mulkey went to have it checked and was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. But while she was there, she asked to have her neck scanned. She wanted to make sure things were still good after a disc-replacement surgery she had in 2018.

After being told it looked fine, a radiologist called to say he examined her X-rays further and noticed what seemed to be plaque in her carotid arteries. She then visited a cardiologist, who put her on a treadmill for a stress test.

“Then he said, ‘I don’t like the way this isn’t pumping faster; it looks like there’s a little blockage going on. We’ve got to do a cath,'” Mulkey recalled.

In the interest of her summer plans, which included a trip to the White House to be recognized with her team, her medical team pushed the surgery out a month. She was given nitroglycerin pills for any chest pains in the meantime.

Once her schedule settled down, she reportedly underwent a left heart catheterization with coronary arteriograms and had an intervascular ultrasound-assisted tandem stent placed on the left anterior descending artery. She was awake when the stents were placed.

The Tigers had their first official practice Monday inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Tuesday, they reportedly had CPR training, something Mulkey prioritized even before her procedure.

Angel Reese-led LSU ready for season

Earlier this month, Mulkey inked a new 10-year, $32 million deal. It was the richest total contract in women’s college basketball history.

But going into introductory individual meetings for the upcoming season, the head coach worried about breakout star Angel Reese’s drive amid overwhelming NIL and social media success.

“Your concern is: Is Angel Reese hungry?” Mulkey said Tuesday. “She’s making money like crazy. Is she gonna be hungry for another ring? You get a feel for that in your first individual meetings.”

Those concerns subsided when Mulkey learned Reese was tired of the off-court stuff and “ready to play basketball.”

Mulkey was even more encouraged when she heard the 6-foot-3 forward say she was”insulted” by ESPN’s early WNBA Draft projection. It had her listed as the No. 8 pick, something she will use as motivation. After an offseason of photoshoots, philanthropy, TV and radio talk show appearances, Reese is focused on running it back.

“I was looking to hear that and I didn’t have to pull it out of her. She understands that she had the most unbelievable year of her college career and it was fun,” Mulkey said, via the Daily Advertiser. “You’re not entitled to that again. She’s working. She’s done her obligations. As soon as she reported here, it’s LSU time. Her, Flau’jae (Johnson) and all those returners feel the same way. It was so much fun but you’re not going to back there just because you’re supposed to.”

Reese and Johnson will be joined by transfer additions Hailey Van Lith and Aneesah Morrow as the Tigers open their season in Las Vegas on Nov. 6 against Colorado.

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