Jim Calhoun may not be retired as coach, but the old instinct to defend “his kids” will still kick in. He’ll notice if one of his own is slighted somewhere, and you can be sure he’ll respond.
When he got up to speak to an overflow crowd at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast Monday morning, he felt compelled to say something about Ray Allen, former Celtic, current member of the Miami Heat and forever one of Jim Calhoun’s Huskies. “I saw where Kevin Garnett said he’s not speaking to Ray, that’s no loss, frankly,” Calhoun said, just warming up.
“.. Last February we spoke to Ray, and the Celtics had told him, ‘you’re going to be traded, get your family ready.’ Ray had felt that he contributed as much as anyone to the success they’d had. The trading deadline passed, and everything was Okay, but I knew then, last winter, that he wasn’t going to be coming back to the Celtics.
“His pride was hurt. … There comes a point where you want to find a way to end your career the way you want to end it, not by being traded somewhere.”
Allen, of course, signed with the Heat as a free agent for half as much as he could have made to stay in Boston.
Calhoun, who has traded in his crutches for a cane as he recovers from his fractured hip, will soon be visiting with former players at NBA training camps, encouraging them to contribute to UConn’s proposed basketball facility; a few million are still needed to begin contruction. His vision is for an alumni locker room within the building, with past players names above the lockers, and perhaps offering the opportunity for former players to have rooms named for them.
“We want to keep them connected to the school,” Calhoun said, “Ten and 20 years from now.”