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    Monday, November 28, 2022

    ‘Not one dime’ still a keeper 13 years later

    Inquiries about my job here at AMUMO (America’s Most Underrated Media Outlet) normally begin and end with a line from the late, great Dan Jenkins:

    “Sportswriters complain a lot,” he once wrote, “because otherwise, people might get the idea that all we do is have fun.”

    True, true. I’ve never worked a day in my life, thus making it difficult to rank one fun occasion from the next.

    But last week here at AMUMO, colleague Sten Spinella wrote a story that conjured one day that just might have trumped all, at least for me.

    Spinella wrote about Ken Krayeske, the Hartford civil rights attorney, who is running for Connecticut’s attorney general on the Green Party line. I grinned at the mere sight of Krayeske’s name, recalling a day from 2009 to be among the most memorable days in the history of state journalism.

    It began, as most great stories do, innocently. I was pinch hitting for Gavin Keefe on the UConn men’s beat, assigned to do the game story at the XL Center for a game against South Florida on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2009. The Huskies were the No. 1 team in the country at the time, but were coming off a loss earlier in the week to Pittsburgh.

    A mostly uneventful 64-50 win was the mere appetizer to a delicious, if not bizarre, entrée.

    The postgame routine at the time for the media was hurry up and wait. It always took UConn coach Jim Calhoun longer than it should have to get to the media room. But then, none of us cared much because he normally 1) gave us all the time we needed; and 2) was gloriously entertaining.

    Calhoun would begin with a state of the union and then take questions about the game. The first questioner was always the laboratory animal, never knowing if Calhoun’s answer would be calm and insightful, sarcastic, or in some cases, accompanied by the full Vesuvius.

    On this day, however, none in the state sports media got the chance to find out.

    This is where Krayeske, who had obtained a media credential as a photo journalist, unabashedly asked Calhoun if he'd be willing to take a cut in his $1.6 million salary during tough financial times for the state.

    Whoa. Shots fired.

    We were all a bit stunned, except perhaps Calhoun, who uttered to this day my three favorite words in the history of Connecticut journalism.

    “Not one dime,” he said.

    I put my legal pad in front of my face so nobody could see me laughing. The man could think on his feet. I mean, I was frequently critical of Calhoun back in the day. But let me just say that James A. Calhoun retired the trophy as National Postgame Press Conference champion. They were better than some of the games.

    “Not one dime” did not deter Krayeske, who kept pressing.

    Calhoun, whose answers went viral, retorted with, “You're not really that stupid, are you?” and later, “My best advice to you: Shut up.”

    It didn’t take long to degenerate from entertaining to tedious. And then when Krayeske said that nobody else in the room had the guts to ask Calhoun any tough questions, my Italian temper made an appearance. Sort of. So I asked Calhoun … a basketball question.

    The look on his face suggested he wanted to hug me.

    He gave a detailed answer. When he finished, he said, “and I want to tell you that piece you wrote the other night on Hash (Hasheem Thabeet) is one of the best things I ever read.”

    Yikes. A compliment? I was stunned, particularly as someone who had been on the wrong end of the sarcasm/Vesuvius thing over the years.

    Before I could say another word, he said to me, “do you have any other questions?”

    “I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead,” I said, actually making him chuckle. And here we thought Calhoun’s postgame harangue from a few years earlier was the GOAT. This was actually better.

    Happily, the rest of the sports media asked enough basketball questions in the next few minutes to end Krayeske’s 15 minutes of fame.

    I didn’t agree with the forum Krayeske used to ask his question. If he were truly interested in the answer, he’d have pulled Calhoun off to the side or called him privately. I thought he was grandstanding. But I admired the guy’s chutzpah.

    And I wish him luck running for office. Imagine if Krayeske and Green Party colleague Kevin Blacker both win in a few weeks? What would we do with ourselves with two politicos actually interested in the truth?

    Anyway, Spinella’s story put a big smile on my face early in the morning last week, a feat that’s not always so easy. Ah, the good ol’ days.

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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