Randy Mulder bought a 2016 Chevy Equinox on Dec. 31, 2015.
By the second week in March, he had put 14,000 kilometers on the car. That’s about 8,700 miles if you need a metric conversion.
Again and again, Mulder drove the 12-hour roundtrip from Windsor, Ontario, to Lexington last season. Of course, he went to see his son, Mychal Mulder, then a junior on the Kentucky team.
The elder Mulder drove to all but two of UK’s home games (He rented cars for the trips prior to buying the Equinox). He also drove to Chicago to see Kentucky play Duke, plus to road games at Tennessee, Auburn and Vanderbilt.
A song once sung by Willie Nelson and — believe it or not — former UK Coach Joe B. Hall comes to mind: this season finds Mulder on the road again. He drove back and forth for each of Kentucky’s exhibition games.
The elder Mulder expected to miss UK’s opener against Stephen F. Austin. Yard work on Thursday resulted in a sore back. “I couldn’t put my socks on,” he said.
Ultimately, he couldn’t resist and drove to the game. He plans to miss the game against Canisius Sunday, but he’ll be at Tuesday’s game in New York. He’s flying.
A spinning odometer is nothing new. When Mychal was six or seven, his father drove to watch his son play in Toronto, Pittsburgh and Chicago.
And when Mychal played for Vincennes University, his father drove from Windsor to the junior college national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., two straight years. The first year he stopped in St. Louis on the way to Hutchinson. “Eight hours, that’s enough,” he said.
After the tournament, he drove 17 hours non-stop back to Windsor. He drove non-stop to and fro the second year.
“I’m not a truck driver,” he said. “I was sitting there thinking ‘What am I doing?’”
Those 17-hour one-way ordeals make going down and up Interstate 75 a leisurely excursion.
“Six hours is nothing,” Randy Mulder said.
If he’s hungry on the way, he might stop at Mom’s Restaurant in Franklin, Ohio. Someone he met at Rupp Arena last season recommended it.
“He told me, it’s like a Kentucky shrine there,” the elder Mulder said. “They’re crazy there. They have blue gravy once a year.”
When Mychal was in grade school, his father did not miss a game. When Mychal was in high school, “I went to 85 percent of the practices,” his father said.
This led Randy Mulder to reflect on how times have changed. When he played baseball as a youth, his father went to only one game.
“He drove one mile each way,” Randy Mulder said. “Funny, I had the best game of my life because I knew he was there.”
His trips along I-75 have been without incident except for one speeding ticket and a second stop that resulted in a warning to slow down.
“I do not like Butler County (in Ohio),” he said with a burst of infectious laughter. “We Canadians are always told, ‘Don’t speed through Ohio.’ So what do I do? I told the officer going 80 mph is keeping up.”
The elder Mulder, 60, is retired. So, as he says, he has the time to drive to games. By the way, he’s flying to UK’s game against Michigan State in New York on Tuesday. He also plans to fly to Las Vegas for the North Carolina game.
In case it isn’t obvious, he is proud of Mychal. When his son went to Kentucky, his father gave him a credit card. “He only uses it for gas,” Randy Mulder said. “He is responsible.”
The elder Mulder said he and his then wife adopted Mychal when he was three months old. Three years earlier, they adopted a daughter, Cynthia.
When asked about the spelling of his son’s first name, Randy Mulder grinned and happily explained he named him after Mychal Thompson, a player whose NBA stops included a stint with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I was a diehard Laker fan,” Randy Mulder said before pointing out that Mychal Mulder wears the same No. 11 as Klay Thompson, the ex-Laker’s son and guard for the Golden State Warriors.
The elder Mulder is easy to spot in Rupp Arena. He’s wearing a No. 11 UK jersey and he must use crutches, the result of a motorcycle accident 33 years ago.
“I’m like a little kid in a candy store when I go to those games,” he said. “I’m all over the map. My bad leg just kills me for like two days after.”
But he’ll keep driving back for more.
To former Georgia Coach Hugh Durham and other members of this year’s class who will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday.
When asked about how the honor felt, Durham mentioned the coaches who preceded him into the Hall. For instance, Adolph Rupp, Henry Iba and John Wooden.
“That’s pretty high cotton to be in the same group with those guys,” he said.
Durham, who grew up in the Louisville area, is the only coach to lead two different schools to their only Final Four appearances (Florida State in 1972 and Georgia in 1983).
The Hall, which is in Kansas City (and not to be confused with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.), said that Durham was “the first and only coach in NCAA Division I history to be the all-time most successful coach” at three schools: Florida State, Georgia and Jacksonville.
“That’s kind of a stretch,” said Durham, who pointed out that he had the highest winning percentage but not the most victories among coaches at Florida State and had the most Division I victories among coaches at Jacksonville.
Durham was also self-effacing about how he integrated Florida State’s basketball program in the 1966-67 season. He said he wasn’t trying to right social wrongs, but merely wanted to get the best players he could get.
Florida State — a school with no basketball tradition, no conference affiliation and what Durham called “a high school gym” for an arena —could not expect much success with conventional recruiting methods.
Durham recalled recruiting Rowland Garrett from Canton, Miss. Garrett, whose first college season was 1968-69, played in the NBA. Florida State’s competition for Garrett was Houston Baptist and Loyola of Chicago.
Southeastern Conference programs did not recruit black players.
“We were able to recruit really good players, and they weren’t worried about the facility,” Durham said. “It was, finally, somebody that was recruiting them.”
Durham, 79, reflected on when he interviewed for the coaching job at Florida State, which was his alma mater. He told the selection committee he wanted to get the Seminoles into the top 25 and NCAA Tournament.
“They didn’t laugh,” Durham said, “but that was just because they were being nice.”
Other inductees this year include Mark Aguirre (DePaul), Bob Boozer (Kansas State), Doug Collins (Illinois State), Lionel Simmons (LaSalle), Jamaal Wilkes (UCLA) and Mike Montgomery, whose coaching career included stops at Stanford, Cal and Montana.
‘Kind of special’
One of Hugh Durham’s players at Georgia will join him as an inductee into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame: Dominique Wilkins, who was the SEC Player of the Year in 1981.
“That’s kind of special,” Durham said. “It really is.”
Wilkins is arguably the most high-profile recruit to ever play for Georgia. After college, he was a nine-time NBA All-Star and led the league in scoring in 1986.
But that’s not what Durham meant by special.
“He was fun to coach,” Durham said. “I’ve often said, a person who gets as much publicity as Dominique did out of high school and while he was (at Georgia), if their teammates like them, they’re good.
“Because teammates are with them every day, on and off the floor. They’re around a guy getting so much publicity. But if he’s down to earth and he’s just another guy with them, they like him. And that’s the way Dominique was and still is.”
The athletics director at Canisius is Bill Maher. No, not the comedian Bill Maher.
“I do get that question often,” Maher wrote in an email message. “Usually accompanied with something like ‘You look different in person’ or ‘the guy from HBO?’”
Maher the athletics director has not met Maher the comedian. “Definitely a different political point of view,” the A.D. wrote.
Maher the athletics director was a four-year letterman on the Canisius football team. He graduated in 1989, then got a master’s degree in sports management from East Stroudsburg University in 1990.
UK fans can prove they bleed blue this week when the Kentucky Blood Center stages its 29th annual Big Blue Crush.
The event has fans of Kentucky and Tennessee competing to see who can donate the most blood. Of course, the real winners are those who need blood transfusions during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The Crush will run Monday through Friday with donations made from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Donations can be made at the Andover and Beaumont centers in Lexington, Middletown Donor Center in Louisville and centers in Pikeville and Somerset.
Donors will receive a Crush T-shirt and a chance to win two tickets to the Kentucky-Louisville football game on Nov. 26.
More information is at kybloodcenter.org or call 1-800-775-2522.
To Brad Calipari. He turned 20 on Friday. … To Jason Lathrem. He turned 40 on Saturday. … To Jared Prickett. He turns 43 on Monday. … To Twany Beckham. He turns 28 on Monday. … To A.J. Stewart. He turns 28 on Monday. … To Karl-Anthony Towns. He turns 21 on Tuesday. … To Charles Matthews. He turns 20 on Tuesday. … To Clarence Tillman. He turns 56 on Tuesday. … To former Auburn Coach Sonny Smith. He turns 80 on Tuesday. … To Alex Legion. He turns 28 on Wednesday.