Apparently Bobby Knight was just tired, couldn’t stand to coach another game at Texas Tech. Just a couple of months after signing a three-year contract extension. No angry outbursts, no getting in trouble for pushing or shoving someone. Not even a departing speech, at least not publicly. He just quit.
Few coaches have ignited the level of controversy that Knight generated while compiling a record 902 victories over 40 seasons. The pity is that he will be remembered as much his tirades as he was for his coaching abilities.
Those who respect Bobby Knight point to his teams’ exceptionally high graduation rates, his flawless record of NCAA compliance, three NCAA basketball championships, and an Olympic gold medal. Then there are the instances where he performed genuine acts of kindness or was extremely generous to fans of his basketball team.
Fellow coaches Denny Crum, Rick Pitino and Joe Hall have alluded to Bobby Knight’s upstanding character. Rick Barnes of the University of Texas even counted him among the great teachers. “He has affected countless numbers of people with his teachings and ideas, people he could never realize that he has touched,” said Barnes. “And that will continue in time as we pass down those teachings to future generations.”
One has to assume that Barnes was referring to basketball teachings. He fell far short in other areas of life. If you are a fellow coach, a basketball player or a fan of Indiana basketball, Bobby Knight is a great guy, a tower of strength, a beacon of humanity. Good thing he was winning all those games, huh?
Knight also set a horrible example of how not to treat people. He apparently believed his won-lost record entitled him to humiliate and belittle basketball referees, conference officials, members of the media, his own players at times. His abilities and decisions were beyond reproach, not to be questioned.
If you tuned in Texas Tech basketball, you didn’t do it to see a great master at work. A Bobby Knight outburst might occur at any second and you didn’t want to miss it. X’s and O’s will only take you so far. His public temperament betrayed him, stripping away any chance for Knight to be remembered as a good teacher or great coach for many.