A few years ago, I spoke with some basketball players who’d played for Bobby Knight and was surprised, having read the press reports, to find enormous admiration.
Michael Ledeen looks at Coach Knight’s career and agrees:
In the world of big-time college athletics, overpopulated with fakes and cheats, Knight is the real deal. He recruits according to the rules, and he insists that his players take real courses and pass them, and then graduate. This is not what the boy wonders of hoops want from life, and they rarely go to play for Knight. They want to be coddled and enriched and tutored and given a free ride and then cash in. Not Knight’s players. I once interviewed a member of his first team at Indiana, an all-American who met with Knight shortly after the coach’s arrival in Bloomington. Knight glared at him and said, “I’ve just looked at your transcript. You’re not going to class, you’re not doing your work. If you miss class, you won’t practice. And if you don’t practice, you won’t play. If that’s too tough for you, I’ll help you transfer to some place where they don’t give a damn.”
The all-American called his father in a panic, only to find that his dad was thrilled. “Thank God,” he said, “now you’ve got a chance in life.”