So Bobby Knight has finally left the building. And all that I want to say is, good frakking riddance.
There's going to be a lot written about Knight. About his greatness as an innovator, as a coach, as a teacher. And there will be some truth to all that is said. But the one thing that must be said about Knight, that must be shouted so that it is heard above all of the blather, is that Knight is, was and always will be a great big gigantic prick.
Knight always preached respect. He demanded the respect of his players; he demanded the respect of those who worked for him; he demanded the respect of those for whom he worked. The only problem was that Knight himself never respected anyone else. Referees certainly didn't demand respect. Neither did the police. Or his bosses. To Bobby Knight, respect was like a one-way street. The respect was given to him, but he was not required to give it back.
This article from SI.com buys into the whole Knight mantra, the iconic coach going out on his own terms. The author draws on a quote he once got from Knight contrasting the Knight with former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes, who was one of those tough old temperamental bastards who coached forever and was forced out after he slugged another team's player during a bowl game that Ohio State was losing. Asked if he was worried about becoming another Woody Hayes, Knight responded, "No. It'll never happen. I'm always in a lot more control than I might look. I know what I'm doing. I'm going to go out under my own terms."
But, you see, Knight did pull a Woody Hayes. Many times. Like that time he punched a cop in Puerto Rico. Or that time he threw a plant at a secretary. Or that time he tossed the chair onto the court because he didn't like a coach's call. Or that time he choked one of his players. Or that time he cracked a bullwhip in the direction of one of his African-American players.
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The stories about Bob Knight pulling a Woody Hayes are all out there and can be found with a decent Google search. Yet, except for a few, namely John Feinstein (here and here), most reporters and writers and other members of the media have been content to look the other way when it comes to Bobby Knight. Oh, sure, he did those things, but that's only Bobby Knight. He wants to win so bad that sometimes he just loses control. But he doesn't mean any harm. I'm sure Woody Hayes never meant any harm, but he never coached again after his incident. Yet Knight coached a quarter-century after slugging the cop. He coached nearly a decade after choking one of his players.
And as for this going out on his own terms...well, call it that if you must. But I see a guy quitting on his team midway through a season. Probably a hopeless season. Probably a season in which the team won't make the NCAA tournament. But still a team competing and playing every night. But Knight couldn't hack it. He just couldn't take coaching a group of losers. A group of losers he recruited.
So in the end Bobby Knight is nothing but a crybaby loser with anger management issues. He's a quitter.
Well, I say good riddance. And don't let the door hit you on the way out. -- John Royal