Jim Calhoun is 70 years old. Calhoun is also, well, Calhoun, the same man who in the past five years alone has faced and overcome a handful of serious health issues, from carcinoma to prostate cancer to spinal stenosis, all the while ignoring intimations that his program was past its prime, that he should consider retiring before the recruiting dries up, or after the 2011 national championship, or before UConn embarks on a season (2012–13) in which it will be barred from NCAA tournament competition. None of these things have stopped Calhoun yet. It’s not how he’s wired.
That almost superhuman desire to be defined on his own terms has served Calhoun well. It also almost certainly played a role in Calhoun’s latest health issue – a broken hip he suffered in a bicycle accident Saturday. From ESPN.com news services:
The 70-year-old Calhoun was cycling near his summer home in Madison when he hit some sand and fell, said associate head coach George Blaney. The Hall of Fame coach underwent surgery Saturday night at the UConn Health Center in Farmington.
“He hit some sand and he has those shoes that are tied in, clip-ons,” Blaney said.
It’s not the first time in the past three years that Calhoun has suffered an injury on a bike ride. In 2009, he fell during his charity ride, breaking several ribs in the process. I’ve never broken a rib, and I’ve never broken my hip, but I can’t imagine either of them feels particularly good. Those are painful injuries.
Which is why many around Calhoun will probably politely ask (read: plead with) him to stop strapping himself in lock-in shoes atop a bicycle at the tender age of 70. I would go the opposite direction: If anything, this latest mishap will serve Calhoun the same way talk of UConn’s decline did more to keep him around in 2010. It’s another challenge to overcome, another hurdle to leap, another just-that-side-of-reasonable goal to accomplish.
A college hoops writer or two may suggest it’s time for Calhoun to retire -- if not from UConn, then at least from the bicycle. I will not be that writer. If we know anything about Calhoun, we know how pointless that invocation would be.