If there was ever any doubt about Bob Knight’s irrelevance and bitterness, he confirmed both on Friday.
Knight, who lost touch with modern college basketball and common decency long ago, reaffirmed his despicable personality with some classless quotes on “The Dan Patrick Show.”
“I hope they’re all dead,” Knight, a man who makes the Grinch seem like the Pope, told Patrick when cued up about his former bosses at Indiana.
It’s those people who rightfully booted a lifelong bully out the door at IU in 2000. They moved on. Knight’s incapable of doing so, harboring anger and acidity that he’ll die with. Patrick brought to mind the fact that some of those people Knight wished dead might still be alive. When given the chance to walk back such a disgusting sentiment, Knight did what he’s always done: dug in his heels and made himself look worse in the process.
“Well, I hope the rest of them go,” Knight said.
They’ll go, just as the 76-year-old Knight will, eventually. But they’ll all die knowing they did the right thing. Knight can’t claim the same. The man singularly responsible for telling Knight he was no longer going to coach in Bloomington: the respected, departed Myles Brand, who died in 2009 from cancer. He was Indiana’s president then. In the years since, Brand has been proven correct.
Knight’s legacy has only been soiled by his own accord.
Knight, the mascot of a man-child for the worst of the worst when it comes to mental and verbal abuse in the coaching culture of yesteryear, was once placed alongside John Wooden as the greatest college basketball coach in history. In the December of his life, he has watched his protege, Mike Krzyzewski, breeze past him in that standing. This is a man who reached the Sweet 16 once in his final 13 years of coaching, a tyrant who sputtered off the sport’s sidelines before underwhelming as an unprepared color analyst.
Now Knight’s only redeeming quality is his still-evident influence and brilliant innovation of the motion offense. Everything else about him carries a stench of rage, irrationality and contempt. He is a bitter, aging man who is incapable of letting go. Knight still holds in contempt those who had the audacity, in his mind, to push him out in Bloomington. He hasn’t returned since. And never will.
“On my dying day, I will think about how great the fans at Indiana were,” Knight said, speaking to an imaginary contingent, a faction of supporters who are a fraction of the size in reality to what he believes exists. “And as far as the hierarchy at Indiana University at that time, I have absolutely no respect whatsoever for those people. With that in mind, I have no interest in ever going back to that university.”
Indiana shouldn’t welcome him. In fact, in light of Knight’s abhorrent quotes to millions over public radio on Friday, the school should ban him for life. Endorsing the deaths of school administrators is crossing the line. Knight lived far too long doing what he wanted to do, saying what he wanted to say, choking who he wanted to choke.
Indiana can let his memory linger with whatever trophies and photos adorn Assembly Hall, but let that be it. Knight thinks he’s won by cutting ties with IU. Truth is, Indiana’s too good for Knight now. In the 17 years since the divorce, the school has moved on, but been willing to welcome him back. That can end now. Bob Knight is not Basketball Jesus in Indiana, and he isn’t worthy of a homecoming.
His style of coaching is going extinct, his force of personality fades further into irrelevance, and with these latest remarks, Knight’s place in college basketball and at Indiana University is no longer worthy of discussion. Let him live out his days in isolated anger, punching at ghosts, while the rest of the sport and the place he helped build leaves him behind.