Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight made his first appearance inside Assembly Hall since 2000 on Saturday as the Hoosiers welcomed Purdue to Indiana's historic arena. Knight was introduced at halftime to the crowd, who welcomed him with a standing ovation.
It marks the first time the 79-year-old has appeared inside his old stomping grounds of Assembly Hall, though he returned to the school previously, taking in a Hoosiers baseball game last spring.
Knight led Indiana to 11 Big Ten championships, five Final Fours and three national titles during his illustrious career, but his tumultuous exit left a sour taste in his mouth, leading him to ice out his long-time employer.
"On my dying day, I will think about how great the fans at Indiana were," said. "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."
Asked later about the administrators that helped orchestrate his dismissal, Knight responded: "I hope they're all dead."
Legendary Purdue coach Gene Keady, a Hall of Famer himself, was also in attendance. Keady won six Big Ten titles and his Boilermakers famously dueled Knight's Hoosiers in the 1980s and 1990s. During one of those matchups, in fact, the infamous chair-throw was produced.
In a recent interview with NBA.com, Keady revealed that despite their longstanding rivalry, the two keep in constant contact.
"We just talk about stuff," Keady told NBA.com. "Politics, things like that. He's pretty intelligent, so he's fun to talk to."
As part of the reasoning -- or perhaps the entire reasoning -- for Knight's return to IU: the program payed tribute to his 1980 Big Ten title-winning team at halftime of the Purdue-Indiana game. Among the players expected who were in attendance: Isiah Thomas and Mike Woodson, as well as other Knight-coached players from his 29-year IU tenure.
Knight was visibly emotional about his return, soaking in every moment as he walked across the court. Before exiting the limelight, he led Indiana fans in a chant, shouting, "DEFENSE! DEFENSE!" as Hoosiers fans echoed him.