Ten Best: Bobby Knight moments

by Brian Clarey

Throwing the chair (1985)

Celebrated, angry college basketball coach Bobby Knight retired from Texas Tech University last week after nearly 50 years in the business, logging more than 900 wins and too many awards and titles to list here. But he forever will be known as “The Guy Who Threw the Chair,” after skimming a metal folding chair across the court to emphasize his displeasure with the referee in a game with Purdue.

Named West Point head coach at 24 (1965)

Knight’s coaching style has always been decidedly military, perhaps honed during his years at the US Military Academy. Knight was successful there, garnering 102 wins in six seasons and coaching Mike Krzyzewski, who was known as “Coach K” when he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.

Indiana University head coach (1971-2000), highlights

In his time at Indiana, the General led the Hoosiers to 11 Big Ten conference championships. He won a Final Four title in 1976, after an undefeated season, and again in 1981, with a team starring Isiah Thomas, and 1987, with a baby-faced Steve Alford at guard. Love him or hate him, Knight got results. He went 661-240 overall, and both Thomas and Alford credit him with much of their success.

Indiana University head coach (1971-2000), lowlights

While acting as Indiana University head men’s basketball Coach, Knight earned a “zero tolerance” policy from university administration after, among other things, the aforementioned chair incident, a 1988 televised interview with Connie Chung during which he made insensitive comments about rape, allegedly kicking his own son, Patrick, during a game in 1993, teeing off on a NCAA volunteer during a press conference (for which he was fined $30,000) and possibly choking out player Neil Reed in 1997, an allegation made by Reed in 2000 which was the impetus for the policy. Later in 2000, Knight figuratively bit the head off Indiana freshman Kent Harvey after the kid said hello to him on campus, which led directly to the Red Sweater’s termination.

The Pan American Games (1979)

Knight led the American team to a gold medal at the 1979 Pan American Games in Puerto Rico. He was also accused of assaulting a police office, for which he was tried in absentia and convicted. Sentenced to serve six months in a Puerto Rican prison, Knight never acknowledged the crime and, in 1987 the Puerto Rican government gave up on its extradition efforts.

1984 Summer Olympics

Knight also took his team to the gold in the 1984 Olympics. The squad featured Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and Sam Perkins. No beatings were reported.

Texas Tech head coach (2001-2008)

Knight’s success as a coach eclipsed his off-court troubles. After a year off, he took a job at Texas Tech, where he revamped the entire program. The Red Raiders made six post-season appearances while Knight was head coach. He also made headlines after a confrontation with university Chancellor David Smith (2004), going after a student in the stands at Baylor University (2006) and hitting player Michael Price under the chin during a televised game (ibid).

Season on the Brink (2002)

The first original movie produced by ESPN, Season on the Brink starred Brian Dennehy, using the ’85-’86 Indiana Hoosiers’ season as a backdrop. The role inspired Dennehy to say, “I had to decide early on that there was no way I was going to imitate him. I mean, I’m too old and too fat for that….” For his part, Knight questioned the accuracy of events portrayed in the movie, which was based on the book by Washington Post sportswriter John Feinstein.

Fancy and copious swearing (1991/2000)

A recording of an address to players on the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team in 1991 went viral in 2000, revealing a dark side to Knight’s coaching style. The tirade included 16 uses of variations on the F-word and ended with the exclamation, “Now you better get your head out of your ass!”

Avid sportsman (2007)

Knight denies unloading a shotgun loaded with birdshot towards a Lubbock, Texas, homeowner who accused him and another man of hunting dove too close to his home. The homeowner, James Simpson, says he was shot from behind after asking Knight to hunt further away from his property. No criminal charges were filed.