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Newspaper edits its column about LSU-UCLA game after Tigers coach Kim Mulkey blasted it as sexist

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The Los Angeles Times has edited a column it published last week about the LSU women's basketball team ahead of its game against UCLA following criticism from Tigers coach Kim Mulkey, who blasted it as sexist and hurtful.

Mulkey defended her players after they were referred to as “villains” and “dirty debutantes" in a piece first published Friday that likened the Sweet 16 game between LSU and UCLA as a battle of good versus evil.

“How dare people attack kids like that?” she said Saturday. “You don’t have to like the way we play. You don’t have to like the way we trash talk. You don’t have to like any of that. We’re good with that. But I can’t sit up here as a mother and a grandmother and a leader of young people and allow somebody to say that.”

The Times removed those references late Saturday as well as one comparing UCLA's team to “milk and cookies” and republished the column with a note that said: “A previous version of this commentary did not meet Times editorial standards. It has been updated.”

UCLA coach Cori Close apologized on social media for retweeting the column, saying in part: “I would never want to promote anything that tears down a group of people in our great game.”

Mulkey said Sunday she was only generally aware of the response to her comments a day earlier.

“I had someone say the LA Times updated, rewrote, did something, and they did it at 10:20 last night or 10 something, and I said, OK,” she said. “That was the extent of it.”

Mulkey's players praised her Saturday for letting them be themselves on and off the court, with Angel Reese labeling herself and her teammates as “good villains” who are changing the game and supporting each other.

Hailey Van Lith told reporters Sunday that includes when they have to deal with bigotry.

“We do have a lot of Black women on this team, and unfortunately, that bias does exist still today, and a lot of the people that are making those comments are being racist towards my teammates,” said Van Lith, who is white. “I’m in a unique situation where I see with myself, I’ll talk trash and I’ll get a different reaction than if Angel talks trash. I have a duty to my teammates to have their back. Some of the words that were used in that article were very sad and upsetting."

Mulkey reiterated Sunday that she would not read another newspaper article over which she threatened to file a defamation lawsuit.

She was the subject of a profile published Saturday in The Washington Post in which family members and former players are quoted about her personality and how she runs her basketball program.

Mulkey’s father and sister are quoted as saying they have not talked to Mulkey in years while others suggest she was uncomfortable at best with the LGTBQ+ community, including some of her own players.

“The lawyers will review it, and when this season is over, they’ll give me a call and say, this is our next step," Mulkey said Sunday. "I’m not reading that stuff.”

Days before the story was published, Mulkey threatened to sue the newspaper for what she said would be a “hit piece.” Instead, it was a wide-ranging profile that examined both positive and negative aspects of her life.

After her team beat UCLA 78-69 on Saturday, she responded with false surprise when a reporter told her the article had come out an hour before the game started. (She had been asked about it on ESPN before tipoff.)

“Imagine that,” she said. “Must have thought y’all would look at it, get some clicks or be a distraction. No, ma’am, I haven’t read it and I probably won’t read it."

The profile comes during a season when LSU opened the defense of its national title with a surprising loss to Colorado and a holiday tournament in which Reese didn't play because of unspecified “locker-room issues” that Mulkey declined to divulge.

Reese made some general references to her mental health and not wanting her behavior to be detrimental to the team.

The Tigers bounced back to have a solid season, losing in the Southeastern Conference Tournament final to South Carolina. They entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed and are trying to become the first back-to-back champions since UConn won its fourth straight in 2016. LSU will play Caitlin Clark and top-seeded Iowa on Monday in a rematch of last year's national title game.

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AP Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg contributed to this report.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-womens-bracket/ and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness