Knight: the legend with an asterisk
The other day as I was scrolling through topics on my favorite non-EPSN sports website called Bleacher Report, I came across an important topic in college basketball.
This topic while relevant in the ‘90s, I feel should be revisited and certain lessons need to be learned from the consequences it produced.
The topic I’m describing is the controversy over legendary coach Bob Knight and the dark situation that befell his career in 1997. The specifics of the story could make for a rather long tale, so I’ll spare the details.
But the short version of the story goes: Knight, who at the time was coaching Indiana, was winding down his glory days as he gave the university consistent seasons of 19 wins or more, but no championships.
A player named Neil Reed, who came into college basketball with a lot of fanfare from high school, became a target of physical and mental violence that Knight was occasionally prone to exhibiting. Taking three years to exact some measure of justice, Reed’s family was able to get Indiana to place Knight on a zero tolerance alert, which he quickly violated.
The evidence that brought Knight to justice, although this action was more of a slap on the wrist than an actual penalty, was a video of Reed being choked by Knight. Citing that he wouldn’t stand failure, Knight kicked not only Reed but also two other teammates to the curb. Knight verbally abused the three players and told them that they had zero future at Indiana.
Reed responded by transferring to Southern Mississippi and finished his collegiate career.
What is interesting to note is that Knight was able to continue his career and only a small mark was placed on his illustrious college basketball career.
Knight seemed not to learn from his mistakes that his wild and sometimes out-of-control temper caused him to commit. Another incident similar to the one between Knight and Reed happened when Knight used physical abuse to intimidate one of his players, freshman Kent Harvey. This incident led to Knight being fired and his great coaching career at Indiana was quickly terminated.
Despite his many years as a coach with an exceptional long and winning career college sports, Knight’s passion for basketball sometimes got the better of him. And it’s a shame that Knight took out his anger on such players as Reed. Despite all of Reed’s high school accolades and supposed prima donna character, he didn’t deserve the brunt of Knight’s rage.
Although Knight called for perfectionism in his system, Reed needed to be cultivated in a softer manner. Unfortunately for Reed, his choice to play for Indiana resulted in another Knight altercation.
Knight remains as an iconic figure in sports, and Reed has disappeared into semi-obscurity since their unfortunate entangle 15 years earlier. With his passing last July, Reed has resurfaced into relevancy and has been remembered as a character that brought smiles to his friends and family.
Knight will still be a legend in the history of college basketball, but an asterisk should be placed next to his name. An asterisk that should remind people of what one’s choices, and the consequences that come with them, can do in terms of shaping the future of others.
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