Juwan Howard slapped with suspension for forgettable smack; Bob Knight’s chair toss still resonates 37 years later

Even I am using the above pic of Knight throwing the chair instead of Juwan Howard slapping Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft. Who wants to look at that?

Bob Knight has long been our society’s whipping boy for coaches run amok.  For 29 years as Indiana’s coach, Knight was less than restrained in dealing with his players, referees, bosses, media, and peers.

Over the weekend Michigan coach Juwan Howard hit an opposing coach in the head during the postgame handshake line between his Wolverines and Greg Gard’s Wisconsin Badgers.  See, Gard called timeout ahead by 14 with 15-seconds left because Howard was pressing down 14 with 15-seconds left.  So Howard slapped a Wisconsin assistant coach.

Tomorrow, ESPN and all other media will celebrate the 37th anniversary of Knight’s most entertainingly unhinged moment by replaying video of his infamous chair toss in 1985.  Knight was outraged by the officiating in a game against Purdue, picked up a chair, and tossed it across the court in front of Boilermaker guard Steve Reid who stood at the free throw line.

I wonder if 37 years from now, ESPN will replay the far more serious and troubling incident of Howard slapping the Wisconsin assistant.

I doubt it.

It’s always open season for making fun of Knight.  Laughing at his expense and reducing his career to that episode is fair game.  He was the best basketball coach of his era, but also unendingly theatrical, extremely charismatic, and a very safe target.

Howard’s Michigan team is on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament this year after a first season of success.  He is not entertaining, bewitching, or a safe target.  He was issued a five-game suspension for the slap by the Big 10 and his university, but the media has been mostly restrained and accommodating to Howard.

It’s very likely that on next February 20th, there is no mention of the afternoon Howard physically struck an opposing coach.  But you can bet that next February 23rd, it will be time for everyone in sports media to re-rack Knight’s chair toss as a reminder of a coach gone bananas.

That speaks to Knight’s continued societal imprint as an ill-tempered whipping boy and Howard’s relative anonymity, as well as his standing as a current coach at an important university in America’s most powerful conference.

6 thoughts on “Juwan Howard slapped with suspension for forgettable smack; Bob Knight’s chair toss still resonates 37 years later

  1. Bear

    Kent, leave it to you to resurrect another under the belt blow to a coach who led IU to the kind of excellence that you currently demand (and have celebrated in the past). Your endless flogging of an event that occurred nearly 40 years ago involving a basketball icon who is over 80 years old (and ill) only demonstrates your sick hypocrisy. Why bring this up again? The number one person who regrets this episode is probably Knight himself. However, the real purveyors of hatred are you and the rest of your media buddies who only wish to sell the toilet rags for which they write and report.

    For your information, Howard’s swing was a punch not a “slap”. What the Hell is the difference, anyway? Are you implying that a “slap” deserves leniency vs a full-on “haymaker”? Tell that to the Big Ten and see what kind of response you get.

    You could have made your point about Howard without bringing up an incident that occurred nearly 40 years ago. I have a question about what you plan to report if Knight happens to pass away some day? Are you going to dredge up the “chair” picture again? Let us know.

    1. Drew

      He brought up the 37 year old event because anyone who is an NCAA basketball fan knows about that instance. There have been numerous occurrences where coaches have stepped out of line but none get remembered like Bobby Knights case.
      I laugh that you are so butt hurt about him correlating Howards case with Knight’s. It doesn’t matter if Knight is ill or not, he is not slandering him he is only bringing up a comparison to what just happened. Calm yourself sir. Lets not forget that Knight also was caught on tape strangling one of his players, and he lived to coach another day

    2. Jerry L Emery

      Oh my God…calm yourself and drink a beer. Did you not get the point of this article? It says…Howard’s behavior was worse yet he will not be remembered nor will he suffer long term effects for his atrocious behavior. I agree. Reading is fundamental.

    3. Kent Sterling Post author

      Here is a quick primer for you – a punch involves a clenched fist while a slap is made with an open hand. The difference is primarily in the result. A slap causes brief pain (most of the time) while a punch can cause injury.


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