Bob Knight should return to Assembly Hall to forgive, forget, and enjoy one more night of Hoosier love

I wish I could write that I don’t care about Bob Knight coming back to Assembly Hall – that Knight is an unrepentant and self-immersed bully unworthy of our time and emotional investment.

But that’s impossible for me.  I care that Indiana Basketball fans have a chance to thank Knight for 29 years of irrepressible excellence.  Knight’s demanding swagger still defines the Indiana Basketball brand more than 19 years after his firing.

Even with all that time having passed and the renovations, every look at Assembly Hall conjures Knight’s image.

Knight has moved back to Bloomington, so all that keeps him from walking through the tunnel one more time onto that court he prowled as its unquestioned emperor is a quick drive and swallowed false pride.

One of the reasons Knight has publicly stayed away from IU Basketball is anger over being fired by then IU president Myles Brand, whose zero tolerant policy was defied once too often.  Brand and the others responsible for Knight’s termination are either dead or retired, so Knight’s residual  anger must be directed toward university buildings and landmarks.

Few current students remember a time when Knight coached basketball at all – much less at Indiana.  Many will recoil at the idea of a person fired under the circumstances that caused Knight’s departure being honored as a conquering hero prior to an IU game, but let’s remember   the entire breadth of his work.

Not only did Knight teams win three NCAA championship and 11 Big 10 titles, virtually all of his student-athletes earned degrees and he never cheated.  Knight’s salary at IU was paltry compared to his contributions to the university.

Knight represented all that is both good and bad about college basketball.  Yeah, he was a brash and unapologetic ogre, but he also took time to visit elderly fans a significant drive from Bloomington.  He demanded relentless loyalty that he was unwilling to return, but there were also moments of extreme generosity.

People either love or hate Knight.  No one straddles the fence.

It’s well known that Knight’s health is not great.  He has lapses in memory, and public appearances can be uncomfortable when his synapses stop firing in sequence.  But like MacArthur, Knight deserves a grand send-off – a massive showering of affection and appreciation for the good that came from those 29 years at Assembly Hall.

Indiana players, students, and alums who view Knight through the lens that focuses entirely on the negative need to forgive and embrace the good – at least for one night.  Knight needs to do the same and allow himself to enjoy a night of adulation.

Each of us has a dark side, an unpleasant ego-filled angry place that is warm, comfortable and entertaining in the moment.  The wake of unpleasantness, resentment and the resulting loneliness it leaves is impossible to tolerate, so most adapt toward less offensive behavior.  At least most of us do.  Knight didn’t.  I hope he does now.

Who knows whether Knight forgives himself for his angry outbursts and wretched indulgences.  It’s possible he’s never acknowledged them.  Maybe he’s forgotten them.  That’s better than being amused and proud of them.  Forgiveness would be best.  Forgetting a distant second.  Proud comes in a last.

But whatever we have thought, and whatever he continues to think, one thing is true – Knight owes Indiana Basketball and its fans an opportunity to thank him, and he owes himself one more moment of loud and raucous adoration.

We don’t need to do it more than once.  That one time is enough.  But, damn, that one time would be great for everyone, especially for Knight.

21 thoughts on “Bob Knight should return to Assembly Hall to forgive, forget, and enjoy one more night of Hoosier love

    1. Stripes

      He grabbed Neil Reed by the throat to get his undivided attention because Neil reed was purposely defying his instructions over and over again. Was it the best way to handle the situation? Of course not. Did he choke Neil Reed? No he did not..If knight would have never recruited Neil Reed, I am willing to bet Bob Knight would have retired from IU and our program would be in much better shape.

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    2. Rick Hollabaugh

      Come on John!!! So what…most coaches do far worse. Get over it. This man deserves to be to honored for all he has done for the University and college basketball. Was he perfect no..but he cared about the kids he coached. Tough love..you ever heard of it? Back in day thats how you parented. Now a days parent want to be their kids best friend with no disapline. You can see every day in news how that turns out! Coaches now a days have to kiss these kids are and tell them how great they are! Focus on negative as you haters due. I look at the good..its the old saying look for the good in people not the bad. I guarantee you his good far out weighed his bad!

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      1. David Robinson

        I get tired of ppl bashing the Greatest Coach to ever coach the game. BK did more for IU than IU did for him, players graduated on time, he raised more money than he ever got paid by IU, he put IU on the map from day 1. Ya, he had his moments, who hasn’t, now we have whine ass kids that want free education and put on the payroll, give me a break! IU has not been the same since firing Bobby Knight! 1 coach for 29 years, 5 coaches the last 19,i rest my case.

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    3. Zachary Slygh

      That comment makes me want to put my hand around your throat! No passion for Hoosier basketball and real Hoosier fans need this in their lives. Maybe Feb. 8th when Indiana host Purdue will b perfect setting I’m thinking and also cause I’ll be attending…

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    4. Max Henry

      What sums up Knight was an episode in “Season on the Brink”, where he accidentally, and it was an accident, kicked a cheerleader. He called her in to personally apologize, and threw in at the end, a comment that assigned blame to her. Always having the last word. Never fully accepting responsibility for his own actions. High standards of accountability for others, yet not himself. That was the “General”.

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  1. Linda mays

    He is one of the greatest and is so favored of all Indiana fans, he put I.U. on the pages of history and will always be remembered as one of the greatest if not the greatest coach of all time

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    1. Lee Smith

      Not ALL IU fans revere the man, Linda. I loved him until the last few incidents, and then I lost respect. Knight was a brilliant coach, but a flawed man.
      But I do agree with the message of this article. It would be wonderful if the final chapter of the IU-Knight story focused on forgiveness, love and good memories.

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  2. Larry

    Robert Montgomery Knight is Indiana basketball!! I can remember in high school going to Bloomington to watch a practice. It was so intriguing to watch Coach Knight teach these players. I could have gone there everyday. Come on now give credit where credit is due.

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  3. Damon

    I grew up in Martinsville just 20 miles to the north of Bloomington. I loved Indiana university basketball and coach Knight. But my love and passion for Indiana basketball has never been the same since coach Knight left. He will always be the best coach in my opinion to ever coach the game of basketball. I hope and pray that one day I’ll get to see coach Knight one last time walk on the floor of Assembly Hall and get the recognition and standing ovation he so deserves.

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  4. Del

    Think the Win/Loss record of Indiana Basketball, since Coach Knight, is enough information foe everyone to see. Plus, Indiana HS Basketball Players have not played at Indiana, not like under Knight.. He recruted the players from Indiana, Illinois and
    Ohio. Best of Indiana on the 75/76 teams. 81 team was loaded with Indiana Kids.

    And they all finished school.

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  5. Gary Holobek

    Coach Knight will never know the impact he had on young kids and coaches. It was not only about x and o’s but how to treat people. I had the privilege of working at camps for Coach Knight at IU and Texas Tech for 34 years. He helped shape me to be the teacher that I was.

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      1. Max Henry

        He drove Larry Bird, the greatest fundamental basketball player ever to live, away with his inattention to the personal relationships. Even Knight admits that was his biggest failure.

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    1. Corvette

      And yet here you are, acting childish to public service workers and throwing tantrums when you get an answer you don’t like. You would think an octogenarian could act mature but instead, you’d rather keep people you find lesser than yourself away from seeing a family member dying of cancer.

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  6. Larry

    Coach Knight not only was a Great coach and teacher, but someone who cared about the education of his players. His kids graduated, lots becoming Highly skilled professionals. I have attended practices, camps and games at both Indiana and Texas Tech, all fun, educational and exciting. College basketball not quite the same without Coach Knight. Hope he will return so All can show what he meant to the History and Game of Basketball. I thank him and wish him All the best.

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  7. G Vaught

    In my estimation Bob Knight deserve to be fired for what he did but then he was given the necessary discipline of being fired. His work at coaching, though while likely diminished by his personal actions off the court and with practice bullying others, does not change the fact that the man accomplished a great deal when it comes to winning. I was personally pleased that the university took the action that they did and terminating him initially.. yeah, I respected the man tremendously for his accomplishments in winning three national championships and an incredible number of games over the 1975 and 76 seasons. It is never too late to forgive someone and I think it is best that he come back and forgive those who took the needed action that was necessary previously against. And I believe it is best that those who still remember him have one last chance to honor his many accomplishments as a extraordinary college basketball coach. LIfe is too short to hold grudges and Bob Knight of all people needs to know this. He needs to let go of his pride and allow the people to thank him for his accomplished history at IU. This way the whole matter of bob Knight and I you could end in a win-win proposition.

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  8. Joe

    Coach Knight has nothing to apologize for. “Zero Tolerance”! for what? I’ll bet all you critics see yourselves as very tolerant, hmmm? The school, IU, has a ton to apologize for. To over-simplify, there are three kinds of people; those who do for others, those who do for themselves and the ones that need to be told what to do, aka warriors, politicians and sheep. When warriors and politicians clash it never turns out well. When times are good the sheep follow the politicians’ rosy words and PC BS. When things need to get done they turn to the warrior. Politicians are a dime a dozen because it’s the easy path. Warriors are rare and contribute infinitely more to a healthy society because they live greatness and will fight for the right things even when the right thing may cause great harm to themselves. The warrior imprints that on the people they associate with. That kind of success is foundational and lasts well beyond the basketball court. The tactics and sincerity of the warrior make them easy targets for the politicians who want to be seen as virtuous and “fair” while destroying other peoples’ good works. As far as I’m concerned, the aura of Assembly Hall, though now in disrepair, is the sole result of Coach Knight’s great work with the support of the fans. Going back there is his decision. There is only one thing I know for sure…typical of Bobby Knight, it would be a tremendous success and a huge sell-out. It makes no difference to me though, he will always be appreciated in my house!

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