After a nine-year professional career overseas, spent in Italy, Germany and Spain, former Flyer legend Keith Waleskowski has officially hung ’em up.
Yes, KW is now working at Cintas — as in Cintas Center. A traitorous act? That’s for you to decide, I’m just gonna stand here looking devilish.
Waleskowski was a fan favorite, and for all the right reasons. The Dayton native personified the spirit of his hometown : hard-working, hard-living, a guy who strapped it on and gave it to his opponents (except David West) hard every night.
The Alter grad performed admirably for the Utah Jazz during the 2004 Summer League, but his rarefied skill set was destined for the more sophisticated, more refined, less docile European audience. Waleskowski spent his days dominating Slovaks and Germans, his nights — suckling at the teats of western European culture.
As a tribute, albeit a rather poor one, we are rerunning our interview with Keith from February of 2009. Do enjoy.
• • • • •
Keith Waleskowski. The Man, the Myth, the Legend. While drunk one night and sharing a slice of Sbarro pizza, Tom and I decided that we need to start a segment where we interview famous people of Dayton. They could be current players, ex-players, “famous” bloggers that love jumping on the Dayton bandwagon (I’m looking at you, Shanoff), and basically anyone who would actually answer our nonsensical questions. We sat down and wrote a mental “wish list” of players that we would want to interview and then compared notes. To no one’s surprise, both of us had Keith Waleskowski #1 on our lists. Yes, #45 on his jersey and forever #1 in our hearts. So it was settled, our first Interview with a Legend was going to be Keith.
Now how would exactly go about getting a hold of him? Those are just details, don’t worry about it. We got a hold of Keith and he was more than gracious to answer our highly immature (me) and inappropriate (Tom’s) questions. So here you go Flyer fans…make sure you have a Snuggie to wipe up your man juice. It’s Keith Fucking Waleskowski!!!
Don: One of our life-long dreams is to go into Eddie George’s house and see if his Heisman Trophy is his center piece at the table. Basically, if we ever won an awesome trophy or in your case, a medal, we would show it off constantly. Tell us, do you wear your State Championship Basketball medal 24/7? Do you walk through metal detectors at airports and say, “What’s that beeping? Oh, this little guy? I wouldn’t worry about this little guy.”
Seriously though, that game winning shot you hit has to be a top moment of your basketball career right? (editors note: Keith hit the game winning shot in the 1999 Division II State Championship with 1 second left in overtime which was this editor’s greatest moment in high school. Yes, pathetic, I know). Did you ever tell any girls at Tim’s that story? We would!
Keith: Unfortunately, I really didn’t wear my State Championship medal around that often. The team did get rings though and I used to wear that, but not too often. I think my mom took our (my brother and myself) medals and hung them up in some sort of frame with other stuff from that game like the ticket stubs, buttons, the piece of net we each cut down, etc. You know, typical mom shit.
You are right, that is one of the best personal moments of my career. Not to sound like a washed up former high school athlete, but hitting the game winning shot to win state is pretty bad ass in my opinion. But I didn’t really go to Tim’s that much my Freshman year. And to be honest, being a redshirt freshman (because you suck, not because you got hurt) doesn’t really have too much clout with the ladies. I was more of a “let’s see how much trouble we can get into in the Ghetto and our dorms while being jackasses with my friends” type of person.
Tom: From the years 2000-2004, children born with the first name “Keith” in the greater Dayton metro area increased by about 35%. More impressively, newborns with the first name “Waleskowski” increased by around 2%. Obviously, this speaks to your overall popularity and profound impact on the program. If you had one word or phrase to describe your legacy at UD, what would it be? “Local Legend,” “Dr. Double-Double,” “The People’s Champ,” “Campus Cocksman?” Choose your words carefully, as they will be airbrushed on a pre-existing mural in my basement.
Keith: That is a tough one. Am I old enough to have a legacy yet? And I am not sure I am allowed to give myself a nickname/phrase. Honestly, I did kind of get into the whole “The Whale” deal that started around going around my Junior/Senior years. I know a couple of people started calling me that, then they made some shirts, and people started asking where they could get one. It just kept taking off from there.
Don/Tom: You’ve played against some great players in your day. Besides West dropping 47 and Jameer Nelson’s 39 in the A-10 Semi’s, it’s probably all a blur for the most part. Here’s what we are interested in: Was there a player you had a checkered history or an unspoken rivalry with? You know, the one’s where every encounter involved shit-talking, angry glares, swinging elbows, overly firm post-game handshakes, etc?
Keith: Off the top of my head, I cannot remember anyone that I always had problems with. The games against Xavier and St. Joe’s were always more intense, but that is because we were all the top teams and there was a respect factor in addiction to the hatred. I mean, you know they are rivals (and you hate everything they stand for) but at the same time you have to respect what they have done and where they have gone because we were working for the same goals.
I know that is not what you want to hear, so I will share a funny anecdote with you guys that may be more up your alley. My sophomore year, we went to St. Bonaventure. This is just crap to begin with because you are in the middle of nowhere, have a 2 hour bus ride after a flight to the nearest “regional” (1 baggage claim, 1 runway, 1 check-in gate, a John Deere tractor brought our bags to the claim and threw them through a hole in the wall on the table) airport, and the showers in the motel (yes MOTEL) had a nice dirt/water mix to them. Well, we had the ball at the end of the first half and I took a shot as time expired. The ball bounced around the rim but finally fell out. On our way off the court, their mascot was trying to heckle me and I (being pissed) shoved him by the face into the side of the bleachers and onto the ground. And that was that. Keith: 1 Mascot: 0.
Don: We never saw you out and about at the bars in Dayton. Did you not like the night life, or was the disgusting-ness of Tim’s too much for you to handle? One of our favorite sights was seeing Sean Finn just standing against the wall at Tim’s. He had this goofy look on his face while this heinous girl was grinding her disgusting ass against his crotch. Seriously, Finn’s facial expressions were priceless. Care to tell us a funny story about him and the ladies? Or anyone on the team with the ladies? They can remain anonymous of course. And where is Ramod Marshall? We loved him!
Keith: Like I said above, I was more of a “see how much trouble I could get into with my friends” type of person. And Tim’s was a complete sweat box. I could not go for prolonged periods of time. Also, I really didn’t want a ton of attention and I was not a glory hound. I just wanted to hang out, so I had no problem with the people. But going to Tim’s there were always people wanting to gust about basketball and all that type of shit. After awhile, I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I just wanted to screw with drunk people and have fun. And I could do that with anyone. I tried to be as normal as a 6’9″ basketball superstar could be.
As for Sean, he always had that goofy look on his face. He still does to this day. And that girl you saw him with was probably either one of his girlfriends or he was just screwing around with some drunk people too. We would play a game when we were in Tim’s called “Freak a Geek.” Not necessarily to geeks, it just rhymed so it made the game sound better. Basically, we would just crazy dance all over people and see how uncomfortable we could make them. All in good fun, of course. And usually most people we were with would join in. I think everyone involved had a good time.
Tom: I remember seeing Finn on “Down in the D-League” on NBAtv. I think he was playing for the El Paso SlimJims or something. Throughout the whole show, Finn had this look on his face that made you think there might have been a gun to his head off-camera. I honestly felt bad for the guy. Tell me he is doing well and not playing in a league where he has to share a bed and a toothbrush with a teammate after playing a game in an empty high school gym.
Keith: I don’t think Sean ever liked being filmed on a reality show. If we were screwing around with Mike Hartsock or one of the DDN reporters he was fine. But just having a camera while you are doing nothing can be pretty uncomfortable. After the NBDL gig, Sean went to Austria and I am not sure where exactly else. But last year and this year, he has been in Ulm, Germany. He started to do a lot better at the end of last season when his coach figured out how to use him and he has been doing pretty well since. Their team is toward the top of the standings. And as far as I know, he is not sharing any toothbrushes or apartments with anyone.
Tom: Most Flyer fans were familiar with your brother, Adam, and were disappointed with his decision to go to Florida State. Whenever I watched an FSU game, it always seemed like they were playing “keep it away from the white guy.” Now, it’s certainly none of our business why Adam went to Florida State. Anyone who has walked down West Tennessee Street on a Friday night could see the school’s “charms.” Nevertheless, would you have liked to have played with your brother? Did he ever seriously consider UD? We place the blame squarely on your head for casting such a large shadow.
Keith: Obviously I would have liked to play with Adam. I always though we played well together. And to this day when we are on the same team in summer leagues or pick up games, we play well together. He did seriously consider UD. They were one of his final 3 schools along with Xavier and Florida State. I think he just loved everything FSU had to offer. I know they didn’t have the same basketball history as Dayton did, but they did have some pretty bad ass facilities. And the ACC is the top conference every year. And that is bullshit if you guys blame me!
He had like a week long official visit, on homecoming weekend, and he came down all the time when he was still in high school. I think that he just wanted to get away. He probably didn’t always want to be “Keith’s little brother” although most of the time it was “Keith’s brother that is already better than he is.”
Don: So you currently play in Spain. What team do you play for and what’s it like playing in a foreign country? Is it a Spanish only league or do you hop from country to country, owning every post player in sight? Also, one of us (who shall remain nameless) is getting married. Any advice to his horrific mistake? Also, can you name your 2nd child “Maurice Beyina Waleskowski?” If it is a girl, how about “Marko Pikkar Waleskowski?”
Keith: I am still in Spain. The name of the city this year is Melilla. It is actually located on the northern coast of Morocco, but is still Spain. It is the same league I have been in since I have been over here and we only compete in Spain. Hopefully one of these years, I can get on a team that plays in a European competition as well as within their own country. It is definitely different playing over here, but i am used to it by now. There are some slightly different rules.
With the help of drums and horns that do not stop all game, it is amazing how a couple hundred fans can sound like 13,000. But overall, it is still basketball and it is how I can make a living and take care of my family. Unfortunately, neither of those names really flow and these kids are going to have a hard enough time with “Waleskowski.” I don’t need to give them a complex. As far as getting married goes, there are 7 words you need to know that lead to a happy marriage: “Yes dear, You’re right, and I understand.” That is it. Use those and you should be fine.
Tom: What are your plans after your days are done? We are thinking of opening up a bounty hunting company solely to track down former Purnell recruits that didn’t quite make the grade. You have an open invitation to join us when we track down Chris Spears, Sammy Smith and Stan King. We will take them down with a net cannon and bring them to justice. If this doesn’t peak your interest, you are a liar. Regardless, what are the long-term plans for Keith Waleskowski?
Keith: I honestly don’t know what I want to do when I retire. When I was a kid, I never knew what I wanted to do when I grew up and I really still haven’t grown up. I literally still play a game for living and that is good enough for the time being. But when it’s over, I have no clue. I guess I really don’t want to be sitting at a desk all day, but that doesn’t really narrow it down, does it? If you want to start hunting down Purnell recruits, and if it pays well, I guess I could help out. But I don’t have any grudges or anything. I mean, you can only play 5 guys at a time. And yeah, there were some pretty big knuckleheads, but when you are recruiting a kid, I don’t think you ever really ask yourself, “Now is this the type of kid that is going to abduct himself and make up an elaborate story on his way to Texas?”
Don: God, Jesus, Moses, John the Baptist, and St. Peter challenge us, you, your brother, and Brian Roberts to a pick up game. Don of course would run the point to allow B-Rob to play his more comfortable 2-position. Tom would play the 3 because he has a fantastic outside game but can also pound it inside (unlike Brooks Hall and Luke Fab). Vegas has a us as a 15 point favorite. Do we cover?
Keith: I know we have a pretty good team and all, but I am not taking us to cover. I mean, St. Peter pretty much controls who gets past the pearly gates, so I am not messing with him. I don’t need to start any grudges that are going to help cash my ticket to the lake of fire for all of eternity. God and Jesus can pretty much do what they want since they can work miracles and magic like walking on water, floating, or coming back from the dead. So I think those two have a slight advantage. And if Moses can part the Red Sea, he can sure as hell split a half ass pick up game defense. Therefore, I am putting it all on them.
Tom and I would like to thank Keith for answering these absurd questions. It sounds really lame, but Keith was someone who I looked up to (literally) since the 7th grade. Going to the same grade school and high school as him was a treat. Especially when I was on his team during recess. One of my biggest regrets was during tryouts in high school. Instead of sticking with my bread and butter (the 3 ball), I tried to drive it inside only to be swatted by Keith. Seriously, the ball flew the entire court, hit the wall, and rolled back to half court. There is no doubt in my mind that play was the reason I didn’t make Varsity. That and I was 5’7″ and was more turnover prone than London Warren sans Ritalin. So thanks again Keith. Keep up the good work and we here at the Blackburn Review salute you!
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.