Paul Daugherty
Enquirer columnist files news and observations

Paul Daugherty
Paul Daugherty has been an Enquirer sports columnist since 1994 and has been chronicling Cincinnati sports since 1988. He has covered almost every major sporting event in America, as well as five Summer Olympics. Along the way, he has been named one of the country's top-5 sports columnists four times, and Ohio columnist of the year on seven different occasions. Last year, he was voted 2nd-best sports columnist in the country, by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bob Knight

It was just like him to leave the way he did, on his terms, no retirement tour full of rocking chairs and fishing rods. I knew Knight a little, liked him a lot, always thought attempts to describe him as This or That were futile. Complex guy, with an unfortunate streak of self destruction, a la Woody, that will forever brand him to some as The Guy Who Threw The Chair.

He was also The Guy Who Gave 5 Million to The IU Library.

I guess the best that can be said is this: As a college basketball coach, you are paid to win games and graduate players. Nobody did it better than Knight. His players were invariably polite and well spoken. They went on to lead productive lives. Isnt that what matters, when all's said and done?

Knight was a substance guy in a style world, who was true to himself, even when it hurt him. And oh, yeah, he was arguably the best basketball coach who ever walked a sideline. Here's hoping he's casting a trout line right now.


at 11:05 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a college basketball coach, you are paid to win. To Knight's credit he also graduated his players.

at 2:15 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything you wrote is all well and good, but at the end of the day how can you let him off scot-free for quitting on his team during the middle of the season... It's completely hypocritical and seems exactly like the sort of thing he would have railed against. Sure he has done some good things, but you have call people out when they do the wrong thing and betraying your team is wrong.

at 2:49 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am keenly aware of Knight's accomplishments on the court and that he is arguably the best bball coach of all-time. However, I find it a bit unprofessional and selfish that he would leave in the middle of conference play with Texas Tech still in the thick of things. I think it's unfair to the seniors, who came there to play for Coach Knight, that he is leaving them before the season ends.

I understand he was "tired" and didn't think coaching was "fun" anymore, as quoted by the Chancellor, but I think it's his responsibility to see the season to its end, unless compelling reasons to do otherwise.

I'll remember him for his positive contributions over any negative. But I thought this was not the way to go out, for what it's worth.

at 3:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Knight that the media painted was an abusive, angry, mad-genius type of coach.

I don't know any Knight other than that, because I wasn't privvy to any inside information on his life.

It is worth noting, though, that Daugherty has a different perspective, and that he sees a human side to the man.

The sound bites and still frames of the media are so amazingly powerful.

at 6:44 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for being one of too small a group of media members who get it about Bob Knight.

at 7:25 PM OpenID vermontdad said...

What is so great is that Bob Knight wouldn't give a damn about the opinions of any people who label themselves as

at 7:56 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:26 - I wanted to express something like that but you said it much better than I could have.

Watching him courtside live, made it very hard to believe he's a basically-good guy. Like wise, respect Daugherty's more-informed opinion, so ... I'm still wondering >> what the heck is this guy?

at 8:19 PM Anonymous a.turtle said...

Paul, did you ever talk Civil War with Knight? Oh man, that is really something else. He could teach the subject. His sense of war history and analysis is unbelievable.

Get him away from the droning of day-to-day basketball and he's a fascinating figure.

And he's an amazingly calm guy on a golf course. Go figure.

at 6:26 AM Blogger Jeff Lehner said...

"substance guy in a style world"

true. great line, probably the highest form of compliment you could give such a fellow.

at 9:42 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah.... and Bob Knight would also give a crap about a poster who's name is Vermont Dad.

at 11:02 AM Blogger Allan said...

Paul - I'm a basketball coach and a teacher. What you said,

"As a college basketball coach, you are paid to win games and graduate players. Nobody did it better than Knight. His players were invariably polite and well spoken. They went on to lead productive lives. Isn't that what matters, when all's said and done?"

Rings true.

Unfortunately there are those administrators out there who speak of how the ends do not justify the means. They don't want their teachers to be tough on students, to have high standards, or to be uncompromising in their beliefs, because even though such qualities may produce productive young people, the learning process for these students is sometimes bumpy.

These days, we don't want our students to ever feel bad, even though adversity builds character. That's too bad.

If we had more teachers like Coach Knight, maybe we'd have more produce better graduates - not the crop of wimps with helicopter parents that are growing in number every year.

at 11:30 AM OpenID vermontdad said...

Guess I touched a nerve there with anonymous AKA "doofus".

at 12:03 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the way to the coronation, let's consider:

In 1979, Knight was arrested for assaulting a police officer during the Pan American Games in Puerto Rico.

In 1985, Knight threw a chair across the court to protest a referee's call during a game against the rival Purdue Boilermakers.

April, 1988 interview with Connie Chung in which he said, "I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.
In March 2006, a student's heckling at Baylor University resulted in Knight having to be restrained by a police officer.

And that's just a sampling. Great coach -- genius coach. Great players came from his program -- but great players, who graduate, aren't always great people (see Washington, Isiah) -- Great guy? Hmmm.... I don't think his record bears that out. Stop the fairy tale and just acknowledge him for what he is -- which includes being a quitter (stop trying to rationalize that too -- it's silly, this move to quit mid-season is inexcusable)

at 12:12 PM Anonymous mountainmurf said...

Having spent 18 years living in Indiana, I view it a little differently. The saddest part of Bob Knight's legacy is the legion of young coaches who grew up thinking that was the way to coach. It was embarassing to see young "Bob Knight" emulators use his routine on young kids, boys and girls, because he got away with it. I wonder how many kids didn't go back because of it. I know at least 2. They were mine. But they at least finished their seasons. He was classless...reminds me of Belichek.

at 12:18 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, "vermontdad" is really identifiable to a particular person. Much more so than "anonymous." I'm sure "vermontdad" is on your drivers license and you receive mail under such a name.


at 1:35 PM Anonymous nittany lion said...

Looks like we all just proved Paul's original point - complex guy that's hard to put in a box.

Compare to Joe Paterno:
- within win or 2 of being all-time winningest football coach.
- also gave millions to his library.
- 2 Nationsl Championships.
- always promoted (never embarassed) his school.
- and by the way, when Knight was being considered at Penn State (while at Army), Joe opined that Knight would not be a good fit at Penn State >> good call!

at 5:35 PM Blogger oldtimer said...

Knight shot from the hip.

Gotta love him for that. Spin doctoring, political correctness, ace kisssing: none of these were part of his vocabulary.

What you see is what you get. Mostly good, sometimes awful, but always true to the man. Succinct, confrontational, honest, and hard-nosed. And a winner whose kids love and respect him. And a husband who is loved by his wife.

When you shoot fron the hip, sometimes the gun gets stuck in the holster or you draw a little too slow. It's those times you end up shooting yourself in the foot. Knight had a penchant for that, but you gotta love the directness.

Love him or hate him, Knight's an enigma, at once grotesque and distorted, yet still willing to teach values he sometimes failed to uphold himself. His players universaly have loved him and become better people, at least those that could handle him and didn't leave. But every coach loses players, he was no different in this respect.

His sngry outbursts and sarcastic put-downs at press conferences reveal a side that had no compromise or sensitivity. It was simple, if you pissed him off, he'd make you pay. Childish, foolish, and in survivor mode. Too bad he couldn't rein in the one part of himself that did the most damage.

But then most great coaches and players are obsessive types, given to long hours and encyclopedic knowledge of their sport. Greatness has a burden for some, and Knight made his heavier as he aged. I think his departure is not an act of quitting, but a gesture of good faith to himself, leaving on his own terms while setting his son up with a new job. His players are not upset, but understanding. Bobby Knight knew how to motivate, knew how to win. He also knew how to be arrogant and cruel. He also knew how to be generous and nice. His presence will be missed.

at 6:18 PM Blogger Paul Daugherty said...

Damn, oldtimer, you want my job? Nice effort. Very well said.

at 7:15 PM Blogger oldtimer said...

Comin' from you, a finer compliment never received.
Thanks, Doc. A tip and a sip of the Keystone.


at 11:29 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great column by Pat Forde on espn.com:

If this is it and Bob Knight has really just folded and walked in midseason, it's one more hypocritical moment in a career full of them.
Knight has always been a putative disciplinarian who lacked self-discipline. Now a man who demands loyalty has abandoned a Texas Tech team that is 12-8 (3-3 Big 12) and No. 54 in the RPI -- in other words, still harboring NCAA Tournament hopes. Along the way, the guy who has always disdained individual player glory sure didn't quit before he reached that 900-victory plateau, did he?
So now Knight takes his record 902 wins and quits. Bobby Petrino was charbroiled for leaving the Atlanta Falcons with three games left and the team at 3-10, but The General surrenders with at least 11 games to go and we're supposed to give him a pass?
I don't think so. Not if there are no health issues attached for him or anyone in his immediate family, and by all indications from those surrounding Knight, there are none. Remember, this is a guy who signed a three-year contract extension in September.

Knight told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that the timing was largely to benefit his son and successor, Pat.

"My thinking was that for Pat and for this team -- most of which is returning next year -- the best thing for the long run for this team would be for Pat and his staff to coach these remaining 10 [regular-season] games," Knight said, according to the paper. "And [to] get an understanding, get a real feel for each other, be able to think over the course of the spring and summer going into next season about how people had played, how things had been done offensively or defensively, what could be done or couldn't be done, what to stay away from, what to work on and develop that from a game standpoint as the coach in charge of everything rather than as an assistant coach."

That's nice for Pat Knight, who has a chance to be a very successful head coach. But what about the four seniors on the Tech roster: leading scorer Martin Zeno, No. 3 assist man Charlie Burgess and reserves Esmir Rizvic and Tyler Hoffmeister? How do they feel about having the last weeks of their college careers turned over to on-the-job training for the coach's son?

You'll hear a lot in the coming days about Bob Knight doing this "on his terms." Of course he did. When has Bob Knight ever done anything that was not on his terms? He is a walking one-way street.

The irony of this is where Knight's terms left him in the end.
Knight's terms left him at a remote basketball backwater on the Texas prairie, where the stands at the home gym are rarely full. Knight's terms left him a bit player on the national stage, his relevance leaking steadily as he made Texas Tech basketball better but couldn't make it matter. Knight's terms left him far from the basketball mecca where he had his greatest glory and became a polarizing icon in the sport.

If Knight had been willing to budge off "his terms" -- to treat people with the respect he always demanded, to refrain from bullying, to avoid the abusive behavior -- this moment would be far different.

The tribute would be unanimous and universal.

Had he not blown himself up with toxic temper at Indiana University, they could have run a parade route through the state from East Chicago to Vevay, and fans would have lined every mile of it. And he would have been closer to 1,000 wins than 900.

Had he managed to avoid confrontation instead of seeking it, his respect would be as widespread as John Wooden's, Dean Smith's and Mike Krzyzewski's. Because he's a better pure coach than Smith, at least as good as Krzyzewski and in the argument with Wooden. They all have had better talent than Knight.

It would be nice if Robert Montgomery Knight could simply be remembered and revered for three national titles, for 32-0, for the Olympic gold medal, for being the maestro of motion offense and the nonnegotiable believer in man-to-man defense. It would be nice if the career highlight reel stopped after testimonials from Buckner and May and Benson and Isiah and Alford and Cheaney. It would be nice if Assembly Hall's court bore the name of Indiana's greatest coach.

But nice was never part of the package with Knight. Which is why he'll also be remembered for the thrown chair and the choked player and the grabbed student at the end in Bloomington. It's why the player testimonials will be interspersed with tape of bellowed profanities, head-butted players and more burned bridges than a brigade of pyromaniacs could produce. It's why the divorce from IU became so bitter, and why his name probably will never adorn that Assembly Hall hardwood.

In the end, it feels hollow for Bob Knight to shuffle offstage on a February Monday, far from the spotlight of his sport and nearly three years removed from his last NCAA Tournament victory. At least he did not exit in Woody Hayes fashion, as had often been feared and forecast, but there is something un-General-like about it.

Perhaps this is it:

He is often championed by people who believe he stood for old-fashioned American values. Finishing what you start is one of those values, and now Bob Knight has contradicted his mythology one last time by walking out on the job.

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

at 12:53 PM Anonymous Robert in Avondale said...

GIVE ME A BREAK, all you Bob Knight apologist especially paul is enough to make me want to throw the hell up. Guys like Paul would have NEVER supported John Thompson or john Chaney had they acted the same way as Knight. And everybody reading this blogpage know good and damn well i am telling the truth. This is why guys like Paul and others have absolutely no respect inside the "community". it's your classic "GOOD OLD BOY DOUBLE STANDARD". And as for "Old timer" give me a break, this has nothing to do with P.C. What the hell does that mean anyway? you should be allowed to act like a jerk, cuss out elderly women, choke, headbutt, and kick players? what's so "P.C." about that? Again, you guys are nothing more than Knight apologist and a clear xample of media bias and good old boy double standard. Lets see if Paul has the guts to post my comments or is this all about people who follow the good old boys company line?

at 1:25 PM Blogger Paul Daugherty said...

Dear Robert: John Thompson left Georgetown 9 years ago, after the Hoyas had lost their first 4 Big east games of the season... to this day, never an explanation.

at 7:21 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert, Knight (I don't like him either) never threatened to kill another coach as Chaney did (Calipari). Chaney got a pass for that?!?!

PD, You're going straight to PC _ell for that last response.

at 11:58 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must be missing something. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I didn't attend West Point, Indiana University or Texas Tech. Should I care about Bobby Knight quitting? Folks are acting like he DIED. The man simply stopped coaching his team. His behavior can't possibly shock anyone at this point. I don't see why it's such a prominent topic.


at 8:24 AM Blogger Bob-O said...

I believe Bob Knight did exactly what he wanted to do and the reason was his son's coaching career. Start him out sloooow. Ten games,then tournament, then 2009.
You don't take the training wheels off your kids bike then send him down Straight Street in Clifton.
Yeah...that Bob's a real idiot.
Idiot like a fox.

at 1:59 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, Chaney's a jerk too -- and he likes to refer to himself as the Black Knight. As far as Thompson -- he did give a reason for leaving -- he cited marital and personal issues. Lame? Perhaps. But to say he didn't provide a reason to try to excuse Knight or make his quitting seem more reasonable --- that's tacky Paul. Try -- at least-- for accuracy

at 2:01 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Thompson did give a reason -- and he didn't hand his boys the reins (I love the old fashioned type of Affirmative Action, don't you?)

at 9:27 PM Anonymous LastLivingLiberalinBooneCounty said...

Knight was the poster child for advocates of "anger management" training. A true personality disorder, with all the impulse control of a two-year-old. Hardly much of a model for young men. Good riddance. Oh, and why should Pat Knight get a free hand up? Is Bobby afraid he can't make it on his own like every other young coach has to? So much for "old fashioned values."

at 2:38 PM Blogger Kantspelwrite said...

I think Knight's leaving the way he did was planned a long time ago. He was going to get his 900 wins and then step down at some point in the season and give his son a chance to coach the rest of the season. His retirement will affect his staff, current players, his family, and recruiting. This was a well thought out decision and not a spur of the moment impulse.

at 8:46 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Shooting from the hip" & "cutting out the window-dressing" & "doing it my way" >> is overrated.
If you wife asks if she looks fat in this dress, go ahead & "shoot from the hip" & sleep on the couch.

BobbyK probably spent a few nights on the couch if his wife has any self-respect left after living with him.

at 3:34 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doc is more than a little off base with his sycophantic praising of Knight. The guy was unarguably a great coach. He also had some personal failings that in any other profession would not have been forgiven. But in Knight's case, they were not only always forgiven, but those who questioned his behavior were treated as heretics.

So forgive me if I won't be shedding tears at the Bob Knight altar. Great coach, who was also selfish enough to quit on his team in midseason (and Doc thinks that's admirable because he's setting his kid up for a job. Geez, so nepotism is now a good thing. Who knew?). Oh, but he gave 5 mil to a library. Big deal. The guy made a mountain of money coaching a kids game. Tell me about the single mom working two jobs to avoid eviction who throws a buck in the Salvation Army pot. Now that's charity.

You surprised me here Doc. Keep drinking the Knight kool aid. They've been doing it in Bloomington for decades.

at 4:12 PM Blogger Paul Daugherty said...

"5 million to a library. Big deal.'' It's posts like that, that make this stuff such a pleasure to produce.

at 9:06 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all about relevancy Doc. 5 mil to a library from Knight given the amounts he's made from coaching amateur athletics really isn't that big of a charitable event. If you think otherwise, then please elaborate, or make more snarky remarks if you can't do that. The snark is always a good out when you can't defend a position. Thanks.

at 9:41 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

PD, There's something not fitting in your support of Knight. You've said you know him a little & like him. You know something we don't?

Also not overly impressed w/ $5 mill given his probable net worth. Joe Paterno gave equally (as I said before) and he didn't have to cover up for screwy behavior.
Respect your opinion but don't think you're making your case.

at 9:11 AM Anonymous phred said...

Coach Knight was a successful coach, a jerk and a bully. Every profession has someone like that. When Skip Prosser died everyone: janitors, students, players, professors, fans, et al, felt loss. He treated everyone with respect.

Coach Knight couldn't hold his jock.

at 1:54 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

bob knight is a jerk.

quit in the middle of a mediocre season. all the greats have gone out this way. NOT.

plenty of coaches win games and graduate players.

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