Before he complicated his life so much, Bob Knight was, without question, a brilliant young coach whose future seemed unlimited.
What limited it, ultimately, was Knight. His inability to get along with people and to suppress his instinct to bully, made it virtually impossible to achieve what should have been his potential: the greatest college basketball coach ever.
Look at his record! Look how many seasons were marginally successful. After his most brilliant stretch, between 1974-1976, he had 20 seasons with 22 wins or less. Add five games a year to that - not unreasonable - and he would have finished with 1,002 wins. Add eight per season - doable, given his talent and intelligence - and he would have finished with 1,080 wins.
But before he felt betrayed by Indiana and many of his friends and some former players, and before he became a bitter old man, Knight was a fairly dazzling young guy.
Look at this clip where he drops in on a roast of former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall. This is in 1978, not long after he ran off a two-year record of 63-1 including the 1976 national champs.
He comes in dressed casually and has some pretty good lines and clearly the Kentucky audience enjoys him and finds him engaging, which he was, when he wanted to be.
This is from 1978 so presumably not long after the Duke-Kentucky title game that year. Mike Krzyzewski had just finished his third year at Army while Jay Bilas and the other members of the Class of ‘86, which took Duke back to the championship game eight years later, were all about 14 or 15. Knight himself was just 38.