I was a big Bob Knight fan in high school. I knew he was a passionate man and thought his passion was eventually going to lead to his undoing, but I remained a defender of the Red-Sweatered-One. I defended him to the naysayers and wore my “Bobby Knows” t-shirt (the one that played off the “Bo Knows” phenomenon) with pride.
I still bleed Cream & Crimson.
But looking back, I’m almost ashamed to say I defended Knight as much as I did. But I did. I’ll admit it.
A couple of weeks ago, they re-broadcast the IU vs. Purdue game that happened 25 years ago today (watch the game online here). And then, the incident happened. You know…the one with the chair…
I was embarrassed.
Fifteen years ago, I wasn’t. I don’t think it’s necessarily that I’ve grown up (although I hope that’s part of it), but it’s more of the fact that nothing has ever been Knight’s fault. Ever.
I’ve read all of the books about him, including Playing for Knight, Bob Knight: His Own Man, and even Knight: My Story. I’m no stranger to the man. He was a great coach. He was a tremendous humanitarian, doing fabulous things for his former players, the school, and the community.
But nothing was ever his fault. At least, that’s how he presents it.
And that act has begun to wear thin for me. And because of that, “The Chair Incident” is now something I look back at with sorrow instead of the pride I once had in the defiant coach who was trying to fire up his team.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad Coach Knight brought Indiana basketball to a top-tier program in the nation. I look at the three banners he helped hang in Assembly Hall and am deeply appreciative. And I believe that his record on Branch McCracken Court is worthy of recognition and am glad he’s in the IU Hall of Fame, because he certainly deserves to be there.
But I’m still a little embarrassed that I was such an ardent enthusiast of someone who would not ever admit he was in the wrong.