It's easy to see why Bobby Knight would finally call it quits at the age of 67. He's getting too old for all that yelling and throwing fits and trying to bend an inferior world to his superior way of thinking.
It's exhausting having to uphold standards in so many areas and telling everyone how to do his job.
Think about it. He screamed at a volunteer media moderator for not running a press conference his way; stuffed a fan in a garbage can to straighten him out; tossed a chair onto the floor to show up referees; threw a potted plant into a wall to set a university secretary straight; cussed out school administrators and the conference commissioner, the latter during a game.
Literally twisted the arm of a student to teach him the proper way to address his elders; threw a student photographer into the bushes for taking a photo of him chewing out another man; kicked a megaphone and scolded cheerleaders for cheering during a free throw; chewed out fans for cheering at the wrong time; assaulted a Puerto Rican cop for daring to confront him; scolded countless journalists about how to do their jobs; called a rival coach names during a game; pushed, kicked, choked, head-butted and yanked on the jersey of his own players, one of them his son; allegedly tossed an assistant coach out of a chair after overhearing him criticize the basketball program; and this is just some of it.
Knight's career covered 42 years. It was the longest bad mood in history.
All that yelling and profanity and throwing things was enough to wear anyone out. He claims he was always under control and knew how far to take it, but doesn't that make it worse?
Well, if you were looking for a sentimental farewell for Knight, you've come to the wrong place.
Knight will always have his supporters, those who think the end (wins, ticket sales) justifies the means namely, the fans who cheered for the schools where he coached and the administrators who gave him a wide berth. People tend to overlook a lot of faults when the home team is winning, and Knight could say and do almost anything with impunity.
But if you want to judge the coach's legacy, ask yourself this: What's the first thing you think of when you hear Bobby Knight's name?
Every news story announcing his retirement this week mentioned his history of outbursts and poor behavior.
That was one angry man. Meanness, pettiness, arrogance, immaturity, profanity they were all part of his game plan, and he never did get why the rest of us weren't on board with it.
He's the all-time winningest college basketball coach, but that won't last long, and even if it did it would be overshadowed by his behavior.
Not that Knight would ever care about such things. He's never changed. Earlier this season, he brought his baby grandson to a post-game press conference and proceeded to make sarcastic comments to the boy about the media "Think anybody here knows anything but grandpa about the game?" he asked him and even dropped a swear word in front of the kid as he began scolding reporters for some perceived shortcoming. Who couldn't help but be embarrassed for Knight.
Knight will suffer the same fate as Terrell Owens, Mike Tyson, Rick Majerus, Dennis Rodman, Barry Bonds great talents in the sports arena who will be remembered more for excesses than successes.
Knight's career contrasts sharply with that of Tony Dungy and John Wooden, who are revered as much for their quiet, dignified, respectful coaching styles as their victories. Dungy said this about winning the Super Bowl: "It dispelled so many myths about the coaching business that you had to be a yeller and a screamer to win. You can ... treat people with respect, be very demanding, but demanding in a way that doesn't trample on people."
It does matter whether you win or lose the game but how you play the game matters, too.
In the end, Bobby Knight's career was a series of contradictions and mixed messages for his players and everyone around him.
He demanded discipline but couldn't control his temper. He demanded manners and respect but gave neither to those who displeased him. He demanded respect for authority but didn't give it to school and conference authorities. He demanded obedience to his rules but didn't obey university or societal rules. He demanded a code of conduct for the game but continually made a circus sideshow out of himself.That's how Knight's career will be remembered.
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