STORRS – Quite a day, an historic day, at Gampel Pavilion. We have tons and tons of coverage on, or coming soon to our main website, from colleagues Jeff Jacobs, Paul Doyle, Mike Anthony, Matt Conyers and two of our newest – UConn grads Matt and Colin McDonough – fanned out all over the building today collecting quotes.
And here for our main page, which will have links to our coverage as it is posted during the evening.
Thanks to all who joined our live chat today. I was asked about my favorite Jim Calhoun memory. I’ve been the beat guy for one year, so, obviously, I don’t have the history with him that others do. I covered a handful of games for other papers in the late 1980s, but my career path at The Courant took me elsewhere, the Giants for seven years, the Yankees for eight.
When I took over on the beat, I heard all the horror stories – contentenous press conferences, early morning, expletive-fill phone calls, etc. When I asked for a sit-down to introduce myself, the coach passed the word he wasn’t interested …
But as the season wore on, and we got to know each other, things got more comfortable. I managed to avoid creating a YouTube moment. On May 8, I called and asked for maybe 20 minutes to talk about his 70th birthday. Calhoun said to come up that day. I did, and we spend more than two hours in his office. I have not saved many interviews in my career, but I saved that tape. He was engaging, interesting, honest, and I will always be appreciative for that chance to get to know him.
Over my career, I’ve covered some memorable, historic figures as a beat guy, which is a unique relationship. Lawrence Taylor, Phil Simms, Dan Reeves, George Steinbrenner, Joe Torre, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera, among them.
But there was a missing piece, working so long in Connecticut without getting the chance to cover Jim Calhoun. I’m glad that, before he called it a career, I had that chance, even if just for one year. Great leaders are not without foibles, and very often, a leader’s greatest strength can be his Achilles. Jim Calhoun is such a complex man, but as one looks back at the end of his time, it can be said he became the most significant sports figure in our state’s history, changing the culture and improving the quality of life for countless people.
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