Peers Heap Praise on Knight Upon His Retirement

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) - Bob Knight's decision to quit as Texas Tech coach Monday in the middle of the season surprised his peers and former players, who tempered their praise of his coaching genius with acknowledgment of his unpredictable and sometimes undignified behavior.

"He's a lightning rod. You either love him or hate him,'' said Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan, who coached against Knight as an assistant in the Big Ten from 1986-89. "But certainly as an opposing coach, you had to be ready for games against his teams, because you were going to get their best.''

Former Temple coach John Chaney described Knight as a disciplinarian, albeit one whose sideline tantrums could make him appear out of control.

"Those are snapshots of what we're all about,'' Chaney said. "You have to really have the story told by all the people he coached and the people that were close to him. When you start dealing with people on the outside, I don't think they can measure this man.

"He was a stickler for discipline. He was a stickler for what was right in this game,'' Chaney continued. "He was someone who believed that when you use the word 'discipline,' it was used as a high form of intelligence.''

Knight's most famous protege is Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who played for Knight at Army.

"Outside of my immediate family, no single person has had a greater impact on my life than Coach Knight,'' coach K said. "Simply put, I love him.''

Louisville coach Rick Pitino said there is more to Knight than the blunt and gruff side that so often appears in public.

"A lot of you (media) have had difficult times with him ... but I've gotten to know him personally,'' Pitino said. "He's really a wonderful guy. He's a great guy. I always judge people if they're great guys if they're good listeners and they're humble. And he's, when you get to know him, very humble guy, great listener, cares about what you have to say.''

New Mexico coach Steve Alford was the star player on Indiana's 1987 national title team, the last of Knight's three NCAA championships.

Alford said he was happy for Knight "because he got to start and finish his career exactly the way he wanted.''

"He made me a better man and for that I am grateful,'' Alford said.

Although Knight will undoubtedly leave a mixed legacy after his 42 seasons as a coach, his record on the court is etched into the NCAA record book: 902 career wins, the most in men's major college basketball.

Other coaches consider him an innovative teacher of time-tested basketball strategies, such as the motion offense and man-to-man defense.

"He's one of the great coaches of all time, no one can argue that,'' UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "He's meant so much to the game. Ultimately, that's the bottom line. He's a genuine, authentic person and did things the right way.

"His teaching the motion is probably among the best ever in the history of the game.''

Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo, who has known Knight for 40 years, said the coach's resignation is a loss for basketball.

"Some people will have a different opinion. But for me, when you lose one of the best coaches and one of the best teachers in the game, it's not good for basketball,'' Carlesimo said.

Second-year Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson has often spoken of Knight in high regard and reiterated that point on his weekly radio show Monday night.

"He's a giant and directly or indirectly, he's probably influenced more coaches than anybody else, especially guys who are my age,'' Sampson said. "There are Hall of Famers and there are Hall of Famers, and I'm not so sure there are many on the same shelf he is.''

NCAA president Myles Brand, the former Indiana University president who fired Knight in 2001, declined to comment on the resignation, spokesman Erik Christianson said Monday night.

To many, though, Knight will always by synonymous with the Hoosiers.

"There's no question in my mind he will, and, in my opinion, I wouldn't want it any other way,'' said IPFW coach Dane Fife, who was a member of Knight's final Indiana team. "Bob Knight to me is Indiana basketball.''

AP sports writers Gregg Bell in Seattle, Dan Gelston in Philadelphia, Tim Korte in Albuquerque, Beth Harris in Los Angeles, Colin Flyn in Milwaukee and Mike Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.


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