A Knight to Remember

This article is more than 14 years old.

It has often been noted that Bob Knight is such an intelligent man that he could have succeeded at anything he wanted to do.

Since there are a lot of smug, self-aggrandizing blowhards practicing law and building businesses, that contention is probably correct. Bob Knight's abrasive personality and longstanding lack of self-control wouldn't necessarily have disqualified him from success as a military man or an nuclear physicist, either, although we seem especially inclined to accept those traits in our coaches, as long as they win.

And no one can argue that Bob Knight hasn't won. hough he's still forty-odd victories shy of Pat Summitt, who coaches the women at Tennessee, no coach of a men's team has more wins to his credit that Coach Knight.

After his Texas Tech team beat New Mexico on New Year's Day to bump Bob Knight past long-time University of North Carolina Coach Dean Smith, Knight turned what was supposed to be a press conference into a speech during which he invoked Frank Sinatra because, Knight said, "I did it my way."

"When I look back on it," he said, "I don't think my way was all that bad."

That opinion is not necessarily shared by the people at
Indiana who fired Bob Knight because after about eleven last chances, he still couldn't control his temper, or by the several people — some of them players - whom he has allegedly manhandled or threatened or throttled, or by the secretary over whose head he threw a potted plant, or by the government of Puerto Rico, which convicted him of assaulting a police officer.

But Bob's way was fine with Indiana for thirty years and
it's fine with Texas Tech now. If he kicks around enough players, secretaries, or fans in Lubbock to get canned there, it'll be fine somewhere else...a circumstance which gives us a choice of conclusions.

We can either lament the state of big-time college sports, where the athletic directors, presidents, and chancellors of various universities celebrate a self-absorbed, belligerent ass who wins, or you can recognize the admirable achievement of the many coaches, men and women, at every level of competition, who value such qualities as perspective, tolerance, patience, self-control, and grace even though, according to the contemporary standards of our games, they don't have to do so.

This program aired on January 3, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.