|Bob Knight only did what he thought was right, always|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 05 February 2008 00:17|
Wins. National championships. Tirades. Respect. Loathing.
What Knight did while running a college basketball program or a U.S. national team always made headlines - good and bad.
How he interacted with others, whether they played for him, worked for him, coached against him, officiated his games or tried to report on him, added to the complex persona he developed over a lifetime of basketball.
The one thing he made sure everybody knew right away was that he really didn't care what you thought of him.
But if he respected you, you and others knew it. His loyalty to mentors such as Fred Taylor and Pete Newell never wavered. His long relationships with former players such as Steve Alford, Quinn Buckner and Isiah Thomas stayed strong well after their eligibility ended. Even through feuds - real and imagined - Knight always spoke highly of those he let in his inner circle.
ing across the court and his contorted face after being asked a question before a NCAA tournament game that contained the phrase ``game face.''
The list of public transgressions goes on as long as the list of his coaching accomplishments.
Does a tossed chair negate a national championship? Does the tape of a practice when he allegedly grabbed a player by the throat wipe out the most wins in Division I history? Does a confrontation with a police officer in Puerto Rico offset an Olympic gold medal?
That will be the debate about Knight long after Monday's decision to resign as the coach at Texas Tech. When do wins and titles outweigh boorishness and bullying?
But being Bob Knight means you can throw a wrench into that discussion.
There have been several times during my two decades covering college basketball where Knight's other side has been on display.
Knight used to hold court for his contemporaries every year at the Final Four's open practices when his teams weren't involved. Up in the stands, Knight was surrounded by a cadre of coaches, who always seemed to be leaning forward to make sure they didn't miss a word.
ollege basketball better.
History was one subject you could always approach Knight about, and there was always hunting and fishing. It wasn't often either would lead to where the questioner wanted to head, but you could see there was plenty of passion for things other than basketball.
For every player who transferred from Knight's programs, there was one whom he helped tremendously without letting anybody know. The stories of how he helped former Indiana player Landon Turner, who was paralyzed in an automobile accident, show a side of Knight he didn't want us to see.
When he coached the United States to the Olympic gold medal in Los Angeles in 1984 with one of the greatest amateur teams ever assembled, Knight made sure Newell was around the team from the start to give them a perspective different from his. Knight made sure the players lifted Newell to their shoulders after the gold medal game to show their appreciation and respect.
Can this be the same man who once had a donkey with a Purdue hat as a guest on his television show? Can this be the same man who was fired after 27 years at Indiana because he couldn't follow a zero-tolerance policy regarding his behavior?
The numbers and facts of Knight's coaching career are easy to spew: 902 wins; three national championships, including the last team to win it all and go unbeaten; 29 seasons of 20 or more wins; 28 NCAA tournament appearances; an Olympic gold medal.
So are the negatives, some of which occurred in his six-plus seasons at Texas Tech, the program he turned around after being fired at Indiana.
Have we heard the last of the 67-year-old Knight? Probably not. You can be sure he'll still provide an opinion on how he disagrees with college players being allowed to leave for the NBA after one season in school.
If there is something going on that Knight feels is hurting the game he is leaving to his son, Pat, and other coaches, he will let the world know about it.
And you can bet it won't be sugarcoated.