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Knight On the Verge

With his Red Raiders playing UNLV tonight, Bob Knight has his first shot at
breaking Dean Smith's record for career wins. This naturally will bring
about great interest and comments from all over. Pat Forde has
a pretty accurate view of Knight
, we think. In an interview with Tony
Kornheiser a while back, Kornheiser asked Knight, basically, if he hadn't
brought a lot of his problems on himself. Knight was obliged to agree.

Barry Jacobs suggests celebrating
Knight's basketball, but not his style.
Even Mike Krzyzewski, who
played and coached for Knight, has always said one should listen to what Knight
says, not how he says it, which is a pretty perceptive distinction.

Knight likes to let everyone think that he doesn't care what anyone thinks,
but every once in a while you get an unguarded view of the man. He was
clearly stung at how things ended at Indiana; he understands he has a serious
problem with his temper, and he said recently he regretted throwing the chair
the minute it left his hands.

He reminds one a bit of Ted Williams, who maintained an antagonistic
relationship with his fans long after his playing career ended (not
surprisingly, Knight and Williams were close friends, with Knight saying that
Williams was one of the very few people who were the best in the world at two
things: hitting a baseball and fishing). He never came out of the bullpen
after scoring to acknowledge the fans, and never tipped his hat to them.

Near the end of his life, Williams made a trip back to Fenway. Very
frail, he was obviously touched and overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotion
from the Beantown fans and did what he had never done before: he tipped his hat.

One hopes that Knight doesn't have to get to that point before he realizes
it's okay to just relax and that the whole world doesn't hate him. It
doesn't. Some do, of course, but most people hate the way he behaves even while
admiring his brilliance. Knight is almost always the smartest guy in the
room, and in command of almost everything.

Everything but himself, that is. And that's the tragedy of Bob Knight,
lurking even at the hour of his most enduring accomplishment.