Bobby Knight died on Wednesday night, but he has legacy that will live on in Indiana and college basketball forever.
After his death, I immediately went to X (Twitter) because that’s where everything happens. I was greeted by a tweet from Colin Cowherd that perfectly captures Bobby Knight and legends alike.
“Bobby Knight was complicated. Most legends are. You can’t define him with a few thoughts, in fact, he’s worth a book before you even get to his 50s. His coaching career ended as you almost suspected it would — turbulent. His influence however is indisputable. Even my tiny high school team, and I’m sure 1,000s of others, ran his motion offense.” — Colin Cowherd via X
Knight’s death is a story that is going to lead everywhere. I produce a talk show in Indianapolis, and we mentioned it every hour. If you turn on FS1, ESPN, or any other national sports channel it’s likely one of the first stories you’ll hear. If you turn on your local radio station, then it’s one of the first stories you’ll hear.
Knight was a true coaching legend.
He coached Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, Steve Alford, Mike Krzyzewski, and the list goes on of legendary players and coaches he encountered throughout his legendary career. The accolades go on and on.
Knight won three national titles and coached the Hoosiers to five Final Fours and 11 Big Ten titles. He also won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. He won the Associated Press Coach of the Year award three times (1975, 1976 and 1989) and was also named Big Ten Coach of the Year eight times (1973, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1989, 1992 and 1993). Bobby Knight was one of the inductees in the first National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame class in 2006, the year the museum opened. And he coached — and then hired — Krzyzewski at Army, kick-starting the career of the winningest coach in Division I history.
Knight is one of the most polarizing figures, not just in college basketball history, but in sports history. Normal do gooders are not polarizing. Jay Wright, a coach who took Villanova to four Final Fours, won two national titles, and has a career win percentage of 70% isn’t a legend. He was great for 28 years. That’s it. He didn’t have any controversy, and despite a great career he won’t stick out a decade from now. He’ll just be another great coach in college basketball’s history.
It’s the controversy that makes someone polarizing and a legend. Tom Brady has “deflate gate,” Michael Jordan had the gambling issues, Bill Belichick has “spy gate,” and the list goes on of legends who had controversies in their careers. Knight is no exception.
Bobby Knight head butted Sherron Wilkerson during a game against Michigan State in March 1994, like a grown toddler he threw a chair against Purdue, he choked Neil Reed, in 1968 he refused to play in the NCAA Tournament, he constantly disrespected the media members he interacted with, and the list goes on.
Bobby Knight’s legacy, along with every other legacy of every other successful athlete or coach that had controversy, proves one thing.
When you win your supporters don’t care, and your opponents hate you all the more.
Do you know who brings up Michael Jordan’s gambling problem more than anyone else? Lebron James fans, because their guy is Lebron, and they want him to be seen as the best player ever. So, they bring up Jordan’s issues.
Do you know who never brings up Jordan’s gambling problem? Bulls’ fans and Michael Jordan fans. They don’t care because he brought them happiness, and victories to parade around with.
It’s just like how Patriot fans don’t bring up “spy gate” or “deflate gate.” Indiana fans don’t bring up the negative things about Bobby Knight because he brought them happiness in the form of three national titles.
Today, I produced a radio show where the two guests who came on to discuss Bobby Knight grew up in Indiana and were clearly fond of the legend. Even when the issues of Knight’s career were brought up, they didn’t seem to faze them.
Later, as I walked around the building to socialize, the non-Indiana fans had an entirely different response to the controversial legacy of Knight. It was all about the bad things he did. It was about the choking, chair throwing, and inappropriate comments. The wins were never brought up, because some of those wins were at their favorite team’s expense.
Winning blinds the fans and raises the hate of the opponents. Bobby Knight’s legendary career only proves that point.
Rest in peace to the controversial legend. The banners and controversies will never be forgotten.
This article is from Jonathan’s Substack. For more articles from Jonathan, click here.
The post The Legend of Bobby Knight was Controversial and Complicated appeared first on WIBC 93.1 FM.
The Legend of Bobby Knight was Controversial and Complicated was originally published on wibc.com
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