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The legacy of Bob Knight

Published: Thursday, April 14, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 17:07

Winston Churchill once remarked that "Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma", and I find that is the perfect description of another quote on quote superpower, Bob Knight. Bob Knight who right now holds the record for most division one college basketball wins at 902 and is also the "mentor" to the man who will pass him next season, Mike Krzyzewski, the coach of Duke, at 900 wins. Bob Knight started off his coaching career at a middle school and ended it at Texas Tech, but his most important time was the 29 years he spent as head coach at Indiana where he won three national championships. With Jim Calhoun, coach of Connecticut, joining the immortal ranks of college basketball coaches with three or more, the others being Bob Knight with three, Adolph Rupp and Mike Krzyzewski with four, and John Wooden with an unprecedented ten. The question I want to ask is how should Bob Knight be remembered?

For those who are familiar with Bob Knight, he is just as widely known for his acumen as a basketball coach as he is for the controversy's that everlastingly surrounded his career. The balancing act that is summarizing up his career with impartiality is virtually impossible with the amount of contradictory evidence that surrounds those controversies, but controversy aside Bob Knight was one hell of a basketball coach.

Bob Knight is without a doubt a dying breed in coaching across all sports. He would rightfully admit that he would not want to coach in the NBA because of the lack of control he would have over his players (as few coaches do), but the wider problem would be the haughtiness that can unfortunately and undoubtedly be characteristic of the modern day athlete. Now I believe this is a more minor problem and more of a product of the overarching culture that makes up sports today then some may believe. Well where am I going with this, well Bob Knight played college ball himself at Ohio State, and in 1958 he was a freshmen. This begin Knight grew up in a very different world and sports culture and if he was coaching your child today you might think his teaching methods were of an ancient civilization.


Bob Knight preached discipline, toughness, and preparation in a way we could consider today to be unorthodox to say the least. Bob Knight tested you physically and even more mentally. When you played for Knight it was either his way or the highway and that might not always fly with today's athlete. This man was a master motivator and was better than anyone at getting the best out the least amount of talent.

Don Haskins the famous college basketball coach at Texas-El Paso said, "His team didn't overachieve. It over, overachieved." That could be said for a lot of Knight's team because Knight was an incredible teacher of the game of basketball. Nobody knew more about basketball than this guy because he studied the game and learned from his predecessors. Not only did he know basketball, but he could teach it too. When I say that no one better prepared for a practice or a game than Bob Knight I mean no one and this was probably because he couldn't bear to lose. Knight was a winner and he had the right mentality to attack and conquer the game of basketball. Bob Knight said of the overstated phenomenon of the will to win, "Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win."


I think that message right there is what Bob Knight should be remembered for. People always say they want to win and they give it their all, but the person who diligently gives everything they have in preparing for the game, well that's the one who wins more than not. Knight would accept nothing less than the best from his teams, and the players that survived their four years were better for it. The modern athletes today are used to the padding of their ego and are well aware of their own talents (usually overstated), but they don't necessarily all know how to foster a great work ethic and prepare to win. Well Bob Knight would show you how to do this whether or not you wanted to.

Some of Knight's methods may have crossed the line, but when you think back on the legacy of Bob Knight you think, above all else, of discipline, devotion, and success.

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