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Knight Rally

was a rally in Indiana over the weekend in support of Bob Knight,
by Mike Pegram, who runs a noted Indiana site.  Some of the stuff was over
the top - like the T-shirts saying "hang Neil" or the sign saying
"send Neil to Cuba instead of Elian," and a lot of it slammed the
media.  It's worth mentioning that the media has always been keenly
respectful of, say, Rick Majerus, who can be just as sharp as Knight in his own
way. Bob Knight's relationship with the media is his own invention and, largely,
his own fault.

A lot of the rally, though just focused on
Knight's other, less publicly noted side, which is absolutely honorable. 

No one who pays the slightest bit of attention doubts that Knight has a good
side, and no one doubts his intelligence. What people are questioning has
nothing to do with his decent impulses. Rather they have to do with his
inability to control himself emotionally. Knight's dark side gets a lot more
press than his good side does, and it's correct to say that's not entirely
fair.  Nonetheless, if the guy is in a  hole, as he may well be,
blaming the media is disingenuous, as Knight himself admitted in an exchange
with Tony Kornheiser:

"I saw the play, and I thought you got hosed. But don't you think there's a karma at work here? Don't you think this happens to you because of all the things you've done in the past, all the baggage you bring to the table?"
Kornheiser asked him after a tough call in, we think, a tournament game.

"I can't disagree with that," Knight answered.

It's not really much different in this context. Knight has done a lot of good
things, but he's done a lot of outrageous things, things which would get most
people fired, like almost coming to blows with his superior.  Each time
something comes up, whether it's Neil Reed making an accusation about abuse, or
a guy in a Mexican restaurant saying that Knight made racist comments (we
defended Knight in that case) or shooting his friend in the ass on a hunting
trip, or the
notorious wav file that's all over the place
, or the chair toss, or the
Puerto Rican incident, or shoving the LSU fan in a trashcan, or kicking his son,
or yanking a player off the court by his jersey, or the bullwhip, or the
"lay back and enjoy it" comment about rape in an interview with Connie
Chung - whether he realizes it or not, these things become his public
record.  It doesn't mean he has to send out a press release each time he
does a good deed. He does a lot of good deeds, and most of them we'll never know
about, as it should be.  But he should be aware that when he loses control
of himself, he causes problems for himself, his team, his university, his state,
and his sport.

John Feinstein really hit it when he said, at the end of his book about
Knight, that Knight was a guy who has a brilliant future if he can avoid
self-destruction. We read that book, and we got a much different view of Knight
from it than we had had before. We wrote him and told him that while we knew he
hated the book, it gave us a lot of insights into his humanity and we liked him
better for having read it. He responded with a very gracious reply which we
still have.

But still, regardless of his good side, his excesses keep him constantly on
the edge and, in concert with his half-decade or so of failure in the NCAA
tournament, may well eventually end his career.  It's really a pity you
can't take the two sides and separate them, because there is rare brilliance in
Bob Knight. There is also a bully who is, all to frequently, beyond the pale.