Emily Dunleavy had no idea what she was getting into when she attended her very first basketball game as an undergraduate at South Carolina.

More than 40 years later — 39 of which have been spent as the wife of basketball lifer and new Tulane coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. — she does not regret any part of the journey.

Mike, a star player for the Gamecocks during the 1970s, dated her in college, married her in 1977 and took her on an NBA odyssey with stints in Philadelphia, Houston, San Antonio and Milwaukee. He then became an assistant coach in Milwaukee and a head coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Along the way, she raised three sons into adulthood while living in more hotels and houses than she can count.

“People say it’s such a hard life, but it’s not,” she said. “I am very fortunate and grateful and thankful. I’ve had a wonderful life and have wonderful children and family. As far as a sacrifice, it hasn’t been a sacrifice at all. Really, no.”

She says this even though she had zero interest in sports growing up in Texas with two sisters. Even now, she won’t get into an X’s and O’s discussion with her husband, but she has embraced everything around his chosen life course and that of her sons.

Mike Dunleavy Jr., their oldest (35), just completed his 14th season in the NBA after winning a national championship at Duke in 2001. Drafted third in 2002, he has played with Golden State, Indiana, Milwaukee and Chicago.

Baker, the middle son (33), won a national championship last month as the associate head coach at Villanova in his sixth year there. He left a high-paying sales job on Wall Street to do what he loved, working his way up from director of basketball operations.

James, their youngest (29), is a sports agent, so everyone in the family remains connected to athletics.

Sports and basketball are in their blood the way it never was in hers until meeting her husband.

“It’s funny to see my mom with this lifestyle,” Mike Jr. said. “It’s a different world, and we moved around a lot but she’s handled it incredibly well. It’s part of the gig. She’s always made the most of every situation and been a terrific mother.”

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What others would consider a sacrifice, Emily Dunleavy has learned to love. Take the constant change in living arrangements, which she said others have compared to a military family.

Each time the Dunleavys moved to a new city, they would stay in as many as two or three houses in the first year as they looked for the right one.

“It’s just something we did as a family,” she said. “Each time we moved, there was something positive about the move, and I’ve learned a lot about building and remodeling. That part of it I really do enjoy.

“It’s a fun thing for me.”

Her passion also turned into a nice side income. Her husband estimates they owned 20-something homes over the years, and they almost always remodeled them.

“My wife had a real talent for that,” Mike Sr. said. “We probably made more money flipping houses than I did playing.”

The moves had even better benefits. As their family grew, even some extended stays at Residence Inns while they were between homes proved rewarding.

“Living there for months at a time brings you very close to your children,” Emily said. “Selfishly, I loved it because they didn’t know a lot of people in new cities, so we all just kind of did it together.”

Her husband helped out by choosing his post-playing stops carefully. After leading the Lakers to the NBA Finals as a rookie coach in 1990-91, he took them to Milwaukee a year later for the financial security of an eight-year contract in a place where they already had plenty of friends and their kids had lived half of their lives.

When that job ended in 1996, he chose Portland in part for its family-friendly environment. He returned to Los Angeles, another city in which they had enjoyed living, with the Clippers in 2003.

“We’ve been through a lot, but it actually teaches you a lot about dealing with all kinds,” he said. “We’ve lived in virtually every part of the country, so our kids became worldly pretty quickly, as far as traveling and going places. It’s not been easy at times, but learning how to handle all that has been real positive.”

The hardest part was the logistics when Mike Jr. played at Duke. Durham, North Carolina, is 2,355 miles from Portland, where the family lived at the time, and there are no direct flights between the cities.

With James in sixth grade while Mike Jr. was a freshman in college, their mom made it to fewer games than she wanted.

Still, she never missed a Duke home game against North Carolina. She was there for all the Parents Weekends, each ACC tournament and for Senior Day.

When Duke won the NCAA championship in 2001, she took James out of school, packed their bags and turned it into a rewarding vacation. Mike Jr. scored a team-high 21 points as the Blue Devils beat Arizona 82-72 in the final in Minneapolis.

“She always made an effort to try and see all three of the boys and my dad as well,” Mike Jr. said. “It’s been a juggling act, but she’s done an amazing job. It was a lot of late flights and a lot of early mornings.”

Last month, the family was together again as Baker helped coach Villanova to a dramatic upset of North Carolina in the NCAA championship game in Houston.

Mike Jr. flew in the day of the game in the middle of a Bulls road trip to Milwaukee and Memphis.

“It was a miraculous win and a happy family moment,” he said. “My mom, she’s always got her popcorn and is always hooting and hollering. I know she ended the night on a high note.”

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Emily points to her sons with a mother’s pride and sees positives in every move the family made. In each city, she connected with other families who involved their kids in everything they did. With Mike Sr. traveling on Christmas most of the time, she established a tradition by always taking the family to Texas to be with her parents.

Her mom and dad traveled a ton to be with her kids, and the Dunleavy family spent summers in Nantucket with the grandparents as well.

They made their life work.

“They never got into trouble,” Emily said. “I don’t remember any time that I worried there were any real problems. They never said to me they were unhappy.”

Her husband’s tenure at Tulane will be a different experience from all of his other jobs, and not just because it is his initial college gig after 35 years in the NBA.

For the first time, all of the children are out of the house at the start.

Mike Sr. considered his wife’s best interests as he pursued his first coaching position since leaving the Clippers in 2010. One of her sisters married a New Orleanian after attending Tulane and has never left, so the Dunleavys already know the city well.

They have bought a house near her sister’s in Old Metairie and will move in by October. Until then, they are staying at an apartment in the same neighborhood.

After living the past two and a half years in Fort Worth, Texas, Emily is ready for her husband’s return to coaching. His palpable excitement about building a winning program at Tulane certainly is the best Mother’s Day gift he could give her.

“I’m glad he’s back in it,” she said. “He missed it. It’s what we’ve always done. It’s a great opportunity.”