Bob Knight, the former basketball coach at Indiana University, passed away a few days ago. During his tenure at Indiana from 1971-2000, he compiled a 662-239 record and won three national championships.
Prior to coaching the Indiana Hoosiers, Knight was the head coach at the United States Military Academy, where he compiled a 102-50 record.
Knight’s career was not without controversial incidents, which are as follows:
- During the 1979 Pan American Games in Puerto Rico (during which he was head coach of the American Basketball team), he assaulted a police officer who was being rude and unprofessional and practically trying to provoke an incident with Knight. Although Knight was convicted in absentia (he left Puerto Rico after the incident), the Governor of Indiana refused to extradite him.
- During a game against Purdue in 1985, one of his players was charged with a personal foul during a scramble for a loose ball. Knight, who believed that the wrong call had been made since he viewed as a jump ball situation, became irate and was charged with a technical foul. He responded by grabbing a red plastic chair and throwing it across the floor. Such action resulted in him being ejected from the game.
- After a loss to Purdue at the end of the 1991-92 regular season that cost Indiana the Big Ten Championship, Knight used a bullwhip and mockingly (but not literally) whipped his players to motivate them. Such tactics resulted in criticism, despite the fact that the whip was a gift from his players.
- In March 2000, Indiana University’s President announced a zero-tolerance policy regarding Knight’s behavior in response to allegations of Knight choking a player. Several months later, Knight grabbed the arm of an Indiana University student because the student had addressed him as “Knight” instead of “Coach Knight” and lectured the student on being respectful. As a result, Knight was fired. He later went on to become the head coach at Texas Tech, where he compiled a 138-82 record from 2001-2008.
There have been various allegations of Knight getting physical with various individuals, whether they were Indiana basketball players or other people. It’s unclear how many of these allegations are true.
Knight was known for his temper in regard to verbal outbursts, whether he was berating his players or criticizing the calls of officials. Regarding the former, he did not take pleasure in doing so. For instance, soon after berating one of his players, he came up to him and said “I hate getting on you the way I do. I really do. But do you know why I do it?”
Sometimes Knight’s behavior was humorous. During the 1985-86 season, one of his players was wearing a t-shirt that said “Puerto Rico” on it because it was the only clean shirt he had at the time. Knight (in reference to the incident with the police officer in Puerto Rico) simply took hold of the shirt by the front collar and ripped it down the middle. He then told the player “that’s how we left Puerto Rico.” He then got the player a shirt that read “Let the Russians play with themselves”- a reference to the Soviet Union’s boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Such action resulted in laughter among the other players, some of whom were falling out of their seats.
On another occasion, he told Indiana University Alumni that he wished they could be canonized, that way people would only have to kiss their rings (instead of their asses).
There is one particular achievement of Knight’s career, and that is his players rarely got into trouble. They performed well academically and followed the NCAA rules to the letter. The only time one of his players got into trouble with the NCAA was when in 1985 Steve Alford had posed for a photoshoot for one of the sororities at Indiana University. At the time, athletes were prohibited from participating in such activities, even if they received no money for it. The violation was a minor one, and it looked like a letter of reprimand would then result (since Knight reported the incident to the NCAA). But the NCAA decided otherwise and gave Alford a one-game suspension.
Thus, despite his outbursts, Bob Knight was one of the greatest coaches in college basketball.
As for his critics, he once said the following:
“When my time on Earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want them to bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass.”
He probably meant to say face down as opposed to upside down, although either way his critics would be able to kiss his ass.
The question is this: will he actually be buried upside down (or face down)?