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Indiana Legend Knight Draws final Straw

by Zach Pretzer

The General. The name couldnıt be more fitting for a man who bases his coaching on complete control and intimidation. It is maybe a little ironic that such a little episode, after all the drama that Bobby Knight has caused, would leave the fifth most winningest coach in college history out of a job.

The little episode is the recent grabbing of a freshman studentıs arm after the student showed disrespect to Knight by saying, ³Hey, whatıs up Knight?²

Indiana University President Myles Brand was looking for the first possible excuse to fire Knight, and he finally got it. Knight was put on a ³zero-tolerance² policy after an investigation by CNN and Sports Illustrated revealed that former players Neil Reed and Richard Mandeville accused Knight of choking Reed during a practice in 1997. A lot of people have different beliefs on whether or not Bobby Knight should have been fired. Personally, I think he should have been fired a long time ago.

Without analyzing his personal antics, his coaching record is nearly untouchable. He has won eleven Big Ten titles, coached 14 first-round NBA draft picks, appeared in 24 NCAA tournaments, made the Final Four five times, and won three national championships.

So, whatıs the problem? Well, if it is normal to shoot blank bullets at reporters (literally), put fans into the garbage (again, literally), toss a chair into the handicapped section at a home game, chew out your own cheerleaders for disrupting a free throw, head butt your own players, shoot your hunting partner in the back, choke people (ugh, and players) at restaurants, and kick your own son and other random people in the leg during a game, then he is the guy for you.

The best way to describe his view on life could be best stated when he responded to Connie Chungıs question in an interview, ³how do you handle stress,² by saying, ³I think that rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.² Needless to say, NBC got lit up for that one. And probably the best way to describe him as a person would be by saying he is a real winner. Well, okay he has won a few games, but I emphasize the sarcasm in Œwinnerı.

There are certainly many coaches in the world who are tough to play for, but perhaps none top Bobby Knight. It was just about every little boyıs dream in Indiana to grow up and play for the ³General.²

One of those was NBA great Larry Bird, who enrolled at Indiana University his freshman year. It didnıt take Bird long to come to the conclusion that he thought Knight was an ass. He soon transferred to Indiana State, unable to play in Knightıs system. From then on, the rest is history.

In 1999, former Indiana player Lou Wrecker transferred to Arizona, as he was also unable to conform to Knightıs coaching style. He was involved in a car accident in which his girlfriend Kelly Craig became partially paralyzed. He again transferred, this time to Iowa to be closer to his girlfriend. Not once did Wrecker receive even a phone call from Knight to show any sympathy.

However, just as I was beginning to find out how many conference championships and NCAA births this guy earned, and how much he had accomplished in college basketball, fellow sports editor Blake Rehberg brought up the question, ³I wonder why heıs such a retentive bastard?² Good point, Blake.

My thoughts then went immediately back to the reality that Bobby Knight must have lost a few marbles in his early days. And to make things even worse, he was born in Ohio. Iım proud.

So could you play for Bobby Knight? Surely he knows a heck of a lot about basketball, but heıs definitely not a peopleıs person. ³He should have been fired in May,² said Oberlin Sports Information Director Jeff Miller, who was known to ball it during his high school days.

Reacting to the situation, sophomore guard on the Obie basketball team Djordje Eremic stated, ³I think that he definitely crossed the line, and that school officials came up with the just decision.²

Personally, Bobby Knight reminds me of my high school basketball coach. My high school general was knowledgeable of the game and successful, but not a mildly tempered man on the court. The difference is that I could talk to my coach off the court, whereas Bobby Knight would rather kick you in the ass or throw you in the garbage can if you had a question.

I think that Bobby Knight is an excellent coach in his own style, a look at the numbers proves that impossible to argue. However, his methods just seem to be outdated. Good examples of excellent modern coaches are Tom Izzo of Michigan State and Mike Kyrschewski of Duke. They know how to let the little things go, and be successful when all the dust settles in the end.

I believe that Bobby Knightıs accomplishments should outweigh the negative highlights of his career. Knight is about four or five seasons away, depending on his success, from becoming the winningest coach in college history. He is currently 116 games behind Dean Smith, the legendary North Carolina coach (who has supported Knight in regard

to his recent situation).

The question that remains to be answered is hey Knight, where are you going from here?

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Copyright © 2000, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 129, Number 2, September 15, 2000

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