As I glanced over message board posts and perused newspaper headlines last week I admit I felt slightly disappointment.
Jim Calhoun is about to claim his place among the greats as he's inducted
into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA this week. He will finally
be rewarded for 30-plus years of wonderful coaching yet "the talk" centered on
the laptop scandal involving Marcus Williams and A.J. Price. Bad timing?
Perhaps. Their guilt/innocence and impending punishment is the hot topic around
all of college basketball, not just in
We should be focused on how terrific Calhoun's accomplishments are. Celebrating how he took UConn from Big East cellar-dweller to national power. How he continued to win Big East titles at a school most said had no shot of competing with the conference's "big boys". To think of what it must've felt like to be Calhoun walking into that first Big East meeting with Hall of Famers John Thompson, Jim Boeheim, Louie Carnesecca, plus P.J. Carlesimo, Jim O'Brien, and Rollie Massimino who had just pulled off one of the biggest upsets in college basketball history, all in attendance. Makes you wonder what it feels like 19 years later to have more Big East titles than all of them.
The numbers are astounding and former UConn assistant Dave Leitao states
the job his mentor has done at
While accumulating these lofty numbers the Hall of Fame never entered the Husky coach's mind until it was brought up to him prior to his second national title.
"I never thought about an induction to the Hall of Fame. I happen to be a person who believes that one season, one game at a time, and that's very cliché in coaching circles… Timmy (Tolokan) mentioned about two years ago the idea of putting something together for the Hall of Fame when I passed my 25th coaching year so therefore I was eligible – It then became something that I thought might possibly be attainable, but I never dwelled on it," said Calhoun. "I know when I got the call how thrilled I was about it but I never dwelled on it beforehand because I had no control over it."
The wait has finally ended for the
"This has to be highlight of my professional career without question, this is an incredible honor," said Calhoun. "I just wanted to, like anybody else, be with the greats because that company is incredible company to keep. When I was told I was (in the Hall of Fame) it was again, the highlight of my professional career."
But he admits coming up with a speech hasn't been easy.
"It started to hit me on the plane coming back from the Michael Jordan
flight school. It was a long flight from Vegas. That's why I'm making the point
-- because it was a 5-hour direct flight to
Calhoun will be accompanied on his walk into basketball lore by Bob Cousy -- a special friend, basketball icon, and soon-to-be fellow Hall of Famer.
"To have somebody that I have so much respect for as a player, Mr. Basketball -- and he will always be Mr. Basketball -- and then secondly someone who I have incredible respect for. Our friendship has developed as we've talked about this great game that we both love. Sometimes we see it from different vantage points, but nevertheless we share a great deal about this terrific game. To have the honor of having Bob Cousy escort me at the Hall Of Fame makes it even more special because he is a special person. For us New Englanders and probably for a lot of people in the country, he was basketball at one point," Calhoun stated.
So as this native-New Englander is presented with basketball's greatest
honor in nearby
Friday, Jim Calhoun officially will be inducted in front of and for,