Bob Knight remains an paradox wrapped in a riddle surrounded by an enigma as “Last Days of Knight” is released

Bob Knight didn’t coach me, and I never met him while a student at Indiana University in the 1980s when he defined Indiana’s brand – in both basketball and culture.

But I think about him.  My understanding of basketball – limited as it is – was formed almost entirely based upon his principles, and his unrepentant demands for excellence provided results equivalent in tragidy and triumph.

Knight is an enigma.  Everyone has an opinion about him.  Some are informed and some not.  All of them are unique and arguable.

Trying to reduce who and what Knight is to a simple thought is impossible.  There is no answer to the riddle, only more riddles, and then finally you are buried under riddles.  His personality is like a computer virus that eats bandwidth until the host crashes.

Knight was a tyrant, ogre, bully, teacher, hero, father figure, and champion.  The only debate is in which order do you list his qualities.

In “The Last Days of Knight”, the excellent 30 for 30 film by ESPN that chronicles the journalism that led to Knight’s ouster at Indiana in 2000, his legacy at IU and effect on players is further examined and dissected.

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I’ve spoken to many of his former players, and his impact upon them – both positive and negative – is massive.  Some continue to love and respect him, some try to embrace the good while burying the bad, and others have nothing good to say at all.

Same Knight, but widely different perspectives.  Just like the rest of us, only much more personal and informed.

Great stories.  Horrifying stories.  Hilarious moments.  Miserable moments.

More than 17 years after being fired, Bob Knight is the scar at Indiana University that will not fully vanish.  Like a scar, he can be viewed with pride, shame, or both.

Knight won’t come back to IU to be honored, will not agree to have his image used in statues depicting his championship teams, or make any effort to be an ongoing part of the basketball program he impacted so deeply during his 29 years in Bloomington.

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But he remains omnipresent at Assembly Hall.

No discussion about Knight can end with greater understanding of the man than the participants had when it began.

And that’s probably the way he likes it.

Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com.

 

3 thoughts on “Bob Knight remains an paradox wrapped in a riddle surrounded by an enigma as “Last Days of Knight” is released

  1. Jeff Gregory

    I spent a season with the IU basketball program within the coaching program. I can tell you that we in the program were in awe of him. He made us nervous, but he never did anything untoward. As far as the players, he yelled, berated, and threw players out of practice, but he never even pretended to get physical with any of them. If he would have, it would have been Chris Lawson (the former Bloomington South and future Vandy player). Lawson pushed Knight’s buttons, but Knight was calm about it (Knight’s version of calm). We knew that Lawson wasn’t long for candy stripes, but that was to be expected of a certain percentage of Knight’s recruits. Lawrence Funderburk, who was an amazing athlete, left of Ohio State the same year.

    I know that Knight has certainly done some boorish things. I simply don’t have a lot of sympathy for the players that whined about it. They knew the risk when they bought the ticket. Coach Knight is what they signed up for and that is what they got.

    Reply
  2. Mick

    Classic IU reply. The 30 in 30 shows the video of Knight choking Reed as he had claimed. Get over the whole “Knight never touched anyone” defense. You may vnever have seen it, players did and the video is verification.

    Reply
  3. Jeff Gregory

    Mick, I am not saying that he didn’t. Relax. No one is going to piss on your hate parade. I can only describe what I saw. You don’t need me to describe what was on TV. But since you brought it up:

    choke – (of a person or animal) have severe difficulty in breathing because of a constricted or obstructed throat or a lack of air.

    Perhaps people who knew Knight come to his defense because of this exaggeration. Do you really think he cut off or even TRIED to cutoff Reed’s air? Yeah, maybe that is why you get a “Classic IU reply.”

    Reply

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