|Coaches, ex-players praise Knight as teacher and mentor|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 05 February 2008 00:43|
Some of his ex-players used the Texas Tech coach's decision to quit on Monday as an opportunity to praise Knight and insist he is different than the image he presents to the public.
The most famous protege is Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who played for Knight at Army.
``Outside of my immediate family, no single person has had a greater impact on my life than Coach Knight,'' Krzyzewski said. ``Simply put, I love him.''
New Mexico coach Steve Alford was the star player on Indiana's 1987 national title team, the last of Knight's three NCAA championships.
Alford said he was happy for Knight ``because he got to start and finish his career exactly the way he wanted.''
``He made me a better man and for that I am grateful,'' Alford said.
gan at Army and appears to be ending at Texas Tech, the image of Knight stalking the sidelines in a red sweater at Indiana will be the one that survives for many.
To them, Knight will always be synonymous with the Hoosiers.
``There's no question in my mind he will, and, in my opinion, I wouldn't want it any other way,'' said IPFW coach Dane Fife, a member of Knight's final Indiana team. ``Bob Knight to me is Indiana basketball.''
Still, Knight's mixed legacy was very much on the minds of many of his coaching peers. It seems the masterful teacher can't entirely be separated from some of the undignified behavior he displayed through four decades on the sideline.
``He's a lightning rod. You either love him or hate him,'' said Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan, who coached against Knight as an assistant in the Big Ten from 1986-89. ``But certainly as an opposing coach, you had to be ready for games against his teams, because you were going to get their best.''
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said there is more to Knight than the blunt and gruff side he often displays in public.
t you have to say.''
Knight's record on the court is etched into the NCAA record book: 902 career wins, the most in men's major college basketball. Other coaches consider him an innovative teacher of time-tested basketball strategies, such as the motion offense and man-to-man defense.
``He's one of the great coaches of all time, no one can argue that,'' UCLA coach Ben Howland said. ``He's meant so much to the game. Ultimately, that's the bottom line. He's a genuine, authentic person and did things the right way.
``His teaching the motion is probably among the best ever in the history of the game.''
Former Temple coach John Chaney described Knight as a disciplinarian.
``He was a stickler for discipline. He was a stickler for what was right in this game,'' Chaney said. ``He was someone who believed that when you use the word 'discipline,' it was used as a high form of intelligence.''
Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo, who has known Knight for 40 years, said the coach's resignation is a loss for basketball.
``Some people will have a different opinion. But for me, when you lose one of the best coaches and one of the best teachers in the game, it's not good for basketball,'' Carlesimo said.
Second-year Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson has often spoken well of Knight and did so on his weekly radio show Monday night.
n anybody else, especially guys who are my age,'' Sampson said. ``There are Hall of Famers and there are Hall of Famers, and I'm not so sure there are many on the same shelf he is.''
Fellow Big 12 coaches Bill Self of Kansas and Rick Barnes of Texas also weighed in, with Self comparing Knight's departure to former NFL running back Barry Sanders retiring in his prime.
``I'm disappointed because I've kind of felt the same way when Barry Sanders retired,'' Self said. ``How can he retire when he has so much good stuff left? And I kind of feel the same way about coach. I'm happy for him but I think it takes away from the interest level in our league.''
Said Barnes: ``The best that has ever been has just walked off into the sunset.''
AP sports writers Gregg Bell in Seattle, Dan Gelston in Philadelphia, Tim Korte in Albuquerque, N.M., Beth Harris in Los Angeles, Colin Fly in Milwaukee and Mike Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.