The seventieth birthday. It is the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity; when you may throw aside the decent reserves which have oppressed you for a generation and stand unafraid and unabashed upon your seven-terraced summit and look down and teach–unrebuked. – Mark Twain
The 70th birthday is one of note. Though, f you’re reading blogs then there is a pretty good chance that you haven’t thought that far ahead. And neither have I. But it’s there, looming, in front of us all.
If we’re lucky.
Jim Calhoun joins that club today. Jackson State’s Tevester Anderson (75), SMU’s new hire Larry Brown (71), and Jim Calhoun. That’s it. Jim Boeheim? He’s next.
Coming off a disappointing follow up to their improbable Championship, Calhoun is losing a ton of talent. Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond jumped to the NBA. Alex Oriakhi transferred. And Calhoun is 70. How long is he going to last?
No one knows. At least, no one besides Calhoun.
For now, nothing suggests that he might step down in the foreseeable future. He talks like he’s 10 years younger. He acts likes he’s ten years younger. Sure he lost talent. But he’s a coach, he’s a teacher. There will still be 12 kids on the bench next year. On average, five of them might be driven to listen, five might fake it, and two might despise him. But that’s the way it goes. He’s a coach and he’s propelled by all those things that lifelong coaches are propelled by – one of them being making basketball players better.
When it comes to him leaving, I don’t believe we need to overthink this. Just look at how he coaches his players. When they make mistakes, he yanks them. He doesn’t want the moment to linger, he doesn’t want his players to forget. Otherwise they don’t learn.
I suspect it will be the same for Calhoun. There won’t be a warning, there won’t be a farewell. There will only be a whistle, and he’ll be gone.