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YouTube Gold: 60 Minutes On Bob Knight

What happens to an Enfant terrible when he doesn’t grow up?

University of Indiana vs Ohio State University
College Basketball: Indiana coach Bobby Knight during game vs Ohio State at Assembly Hall. Bloomington, IN 3/2/1980
Set Number: X24255 TK1 R2 F2

Back in 1980, Bob Knight was widely seen as the best coach in college basketball although most UNC fans would have argued for Dean Smith. Even they might have said Knight was a close second.

He was four years removed from a spectacular two-year run that saw Indiana go 63-1, capped off by an undefeated national championship season in 1976. He was just 40 years old in this 1980 60 Minutes profile, still reasonably approachable, at times genial and, dare we say it, fun. Well, maybe entertaining is a better word.

He was not yet as embittered as he would become later, nor quite as polarizing. The incident with the cop in Puerto Rico had happened; the infamous chair toss was about five years away.

The uglier side of Knight’s personality would become more prevalent of course. There were allegations of physical assault, of throwing a potted plant at a secretary and much later, of course, the video where he appeared to grab a player by the neck.

Knight has many good qualities too. When Mike Krzyzewski’s father died while he was at West Point, Knight really went out of his way to look after him. When Landon Turner was paralyzed during an accident, Knight was incredibly supportive.

He’s also a highly intelligent man who has a deep knowledge of history, among other things.

Yet his bitterness won out in the end. He was unable to forgive anyone he felt had betrayed him, including Krzyzewski, who tried for decades to maintain a relationship with his volatile college coach.

You have to think that Knight understands what his bitterness and rigidity cost him. In 1980, he was still on track to be the greatest coach of all time. His inability to control his rage cost him his career and his reputation.

Here, though, you can see the potential the man had. He was so smart, so charismatic, so gifted. But he was hostage to his emotional blindness.

Think about it this way: if he could have mastered his emotions and averaged 27 wins at IU from 1972-2007, when he resigned at Texas Tech after being forced out at IU, he would have finished with close to 950 wins. Toss in 102 at Army and he'd have been right around 1,050 wins. That would have put him in shouting distance of Mike Krzyzewski’s 1,202 career wins.

It’s still unfathomable that someone with such obvious brilliance and charisma could never learn to control his rage. It cost him so very much in the end and basketball was the least of it.

By the way, there are some lovely moments with the late Al McGuire here too.