There has never been any gray area concerning Bob Knight and what he thinks or believes in. Time after time, we have heard him speak passionately about his opinions and how he feels about life, and not just the game of basketball. He also has shown on many occasions the propensity to assist and support his players throughout his illustrious, yet enigmatic career.
Knight can be extremely generous, compassionate and supportive, according to many of the men who have played for him, asking virtually nothing in return other than their loyalty and their commitment to him.
That being said, it really came as no surprise that Knight would once again shun the spotlight that Indiana University attempted to place upon him as they honored the 1987 NCAA Tourney Championship team during a regular season game recently against Stetson. While an official invitation was extended, Knight chose to shun the very men who gave him all they had and then some that year, over the continued ill will he fosters regarding his legitimate and long overdue dismissal from Indiana University some 11 years ago.
Forget about the throngs of fans who would have loved to have seen him or perhaps converse with him. Knight took the narcissistic approach and determined it was an event worth missing despite the fellowship he would have experienced at the reunion. The sweat and effort these men gave him that year pales in comparison to his own self righteous agenda, and as long as he can brush the IU administration aside in the process like a fly buzzing around his head, he will do such.
The only thing more distasteful than Knight’s blatant behavior towards a group of men who helped solidify his Hall of Fame coaching credentials even further, is that he can justify the consequences of his own poor judgment to supercede the opportunity to spend time with those who care about him, and still support him, despite how they may view his shortcomings and transgressions.
By using the misplaced resentment of those who fired him as an excuse to ultimately disrespect his players, Knight shows yet another example of his obvious inability to accept personal and professional failure and what one can learn from it. His reluctance to reconcile the past continues to place a barrier between many people who respect him and are indebted to him as a result of the numerous gestures of goodwill he has bestowed upon them.
The obvious question at age 72 is, how many more opportunities to enjoy the fruits of his labor remain? Is it not time to embrace them, along with those who still despite everything that has transpired, and for reasons only known to them, still are reaching out? Most certainly would. Then again, Knight clearly is unlike most, and while he owes me no explanation for his ludicrous behavior, he does owe at least a modicum of respect to his former players, who to a man, dodged the obvious questions regarding his whereabouts this past weekend.
When you spend virtually your entire life in a sport, there will undoubtedly be some scrutiny of what you say. One of my favorite Knight quotes is this jewel from February of 1991 in which he summed up his induction to the basketball Hall of Fame: “A player enters the Hall of Fame on his ability, and a coach enters on the ability of his players.”
Too bad that type of logic doesn’t resonate with Knight regarding his personal relationships with his players. Think about it coach, and before it is too late, you should enjoy it all with those who made it happen. They deserve it and hopefully one day you will realize it.
Danny Bridges, who feels Bob Knight possesses one of the most brilliant basketball minds the game has ever seen, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or at Bridgeshd@aol.com.