Writing about Bob Knight should be more difficult. He is more than simply a bully. He is more than simply a great and legendary coach. How do you write a 500 word, a 1000 word or any word count of a column about this guy? Someone who has shown so many sides of himself to the public, that any article or post comes off as somewhat simplistic and written by a hater or an apologist?
The answer, is that you can't. So I think many writers just put their head down and write about one aspect and pay lip-service to the other part out of necessity.
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No shock that every coach contacted had nothing but praise for Bob Knight and his decision to resign.
National punditry was a little different. A criticism stated by Michael David Smith at FanHouse was echoed in several places. The issue of hypocrisy of demanding commitment and loyalty and then quitting on his team may be something Digger Phelps and Dick Vitale can gloss over as not relevant, but it is something that can't be ignored.
Pat Forde at ESPN.com came down hard on him for the hypocrisy.
If this is it and Bob Knight has really just folded and walked in midseason, it's one more hypocritical moment in a career full of them.
Knight has always been a putative disciplinarian who lacked self-discipline. Now a man who demands loyalty has abandoned a Texas Tech team that is 12-8 (3-3 Big 12) and No. 54 in the RPI -- in other words, still harboring NCAA Tournament hopes. Along the way, the guy who has always disdained individual player glory sure didn't quit before he reached that 900-victory plateau, did he?
Gary Parrish at CBS Sports.com noted it with a sense of sadness.
Like I said, it's a shame. Because with this final unusual development Knight has cemented his reputation as a man who preached commitment and discipline but forever struggled being committed and disciplined while handling himself in a way that was equal parts controversial and bizarre.
Another popular theme was that Bob Knight left on his terms and his way.
I once asked Knight -- it might have been after the infamous chair-tossing incident in the early 1980s -- if he ever worried that he would pull a Woody.
"No," he said. "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."
Greg Doyel at CBS Sports.com was positively glowing in how Knight chose to leave.
Knight left the way we should all leave, which is to say, completely on his terms. His terms weren't the terms most people would have chosen, but they were his terms nonetheless. No news conference. Hell, no news release. He just let the word trickle out unofficially through the local paper in Lubbock, then confirmed it officially so there would be no period of awkward speculation or rumor-mongering. He woke up Monday morning as the basketball coach at Texas Tech, and he went to bed Monday night without a job. Hello. Goodbye.
People are asking how it could be this way. I'd ask another question: How could it be any other way? Imagine Knight holding that news conference. The media would sharpen their teeth and fly into Lubbock to take one last bite, or the media would muzzle themselves and sit through a charade in which they pretended to have liked Knight all along. Either scenario would have been intolerable, and Knight avoided the whole thing.
Knight's boorishness has always obscured his righteousness, transforming this man -- who won without cheating or sacrificing his academic ideals -- into the cleanest anti-role model we've ever seen.
John Feinstein of Season on the Brink fame recalls one of Bob Knight's best moments.
His name was Garland Loper, and he was 12 years old. He explained to Knight that his father and brother would like to meet him.
"Of course," Knight said. "Where are they?"
Garland pointed across the restaurant.
"You see, Coach, they're both deaf and mute," he explained. "They talk through me. They'd like to say hello to you if it's okay."
Knight instantly waved over the two older Lopers. They signed to Garland, who spoke to Knight, telling him how much they loved Indiana basketball and how proud they were of him and his players. Knight was clearly touched by all three. He took down their home address and phone number and sent the entire family Indiana memorabilia and souvenirs. He also invited them to a game.
Before the game, Knight took the Lopers into the locker room. He introduced them to his players, and Garland again acted as the family spokesman so he, his dad and his brother could speak to the players. When he was finished, the room was absolutely silent.
"Boys," Knight said as he always did when his team had visitors. One by one, the players lined up to shake hands with the Lopers and introduce themselves.
When the Lopers had left, there was a long silence, and then Knight said, "Boys, I don't ever want to hear again how tough your lives are."
Tim Keown at ESPN.com sees it as a sad day since a character of college basketball is not coaching any longer.
Until Monday, Knight was one of the few larger-than-life characters left in sports. He wasn't always right, but he was never dull. He held to the idea that kids were there to learn basketball and go to class.
Some of his ideas were downright archaic: He refused to put names on the back of jerseys because he believed the name on the front was the only one that mattered. His faults, to me, could be summarized in one sentence: He was a man who demanded discipline while often exhibiting none himself.
There's that reference to the hypocrisy again.