It always grabs people’s attention when one of these legendary, larger-than-life characters passes away. Bob Knight was one of the most colorful and controversial legends in college sports history.
Knight was 83 and he had health problems for years. One illness in April landed him in hospital.
Knight’s family released a statement saying that it was with heavy hearts they shared that Coach Bob Knight died at his Bloomington home surrounded by family. We are grateful for the prayers and thoughts, and we appreciate that Coach Knight requested a private gathering of his family, which was honored.
Knight’s coaching career began at Army as the youngest college basketball head coach at 24 years old in 1965. He’s most famous for his time at Indiana where he amassed a remarkable record.
Bob Knight has passed away at the age of 83.
1x NCAA Champion (player)
3x NCAA Champion (coach)
5x Final Four
11x Big Ten Champion
3x AP Coach of the Year
1x Naismith Coach of the Year
1991 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
A true legend. pic.twitter.com/7GSDd1y3Ty
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) November 1, 2023
Knight won four championships – one as a student at Ohio State, in 1960, and three as the head coach of Indiana Hoosiers. Knight’s most impressive achievement was to coach the Hoosiers in 1976, who went undefeated with a 32-0 record. This team was the last unbeaten team in NCAA Basketball to date. In 1984, he coached the U.S. Olympic all-amateur team that won a gold.
His teams were known for their hard work, discipline, and high graduation rate. Knight’s outsized personality, and his sometimes bombastic antics, drew controversy.
ESPN reported that “he was a complex and erratic man who had an extensive record of outbursts throughout his life.” He was charged with hitting a Puerto Rican policeman and was later convicted. He also headbutted Indiana’s Sherron Willkerson, while screaming at him from the bench. Knight claimed that he had actually kicked his son’s chair.
In 1985, Knight was infamous for throwing a chair at a teammate during a match. He received a technical penalty. After an altercation on campus with a student, Knight was fired from Indiana. The rift between him at the university lasted for many years. Knight coached at Texas Tech for 7 seasons before retiring.
Knight was known as a coach who would do anything for a win, even though his behavior was erratic and he had never broken any NCAA rules. Knight was also known for his tendency to say controversial things during interviews.
He once told a journalist that if his primary goal at Indiana was to win games, he could probably do it as well as anyone else. “I’d just cheat and steal money from people in Indianapolis who wanted to run their operation this way. Then I would go out and find the best basketball players that I could. Then we’d beat everybody.”
Knight courted even more controversy in 1988 when he responded to a journalist’s question about his stress management.
“I believe that if rape was inevitable, you should relax and enjoy it,” Chung told him, adding that “that’s an old term you’re going use.” You have no control because the plane is down. I’m not referring to that. I’m referring to the act of rape. Do not misunderstand me. “But what I mean is that something has happened to you and you need to deal with it now.”
So sorry to learn of the passing of Bob Knight who was so good in his prime teaching how to play the game.Always loved talking hoops with him over the https://t.co/HEyBP2IlxZ heart goes out to Karen the love of his life & his family & friends .@ESPN App https://t.co/qAXMCWliJc
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) November 1, 2023
The coach was compelled to change his mind after the interview.
In another interview, he stated: “Anyone who knows me will be quick to point out that I am one of the very last people to have a casual attitude towards rape…or any other form of crime.”
Knight is revered by anyone who has any knowledge of college basketball for his work as a coach, despite all the controversy he generated. All over the world of college basketball, tributes were paid to Knight.
“We have lost one of the most influential coaches in basketball history today.” Mike Krzyzewski, former Duke coach, said in a press release that Knight was “clearly one of a sort”. Coach Knight mentored and recruited me and had a profound effect on my career and my life. It is a great loss to our sport and we are deeply saddened. Krzyzewski was Knight’s teammate at Army, and he surpassed him in terms of wins.
Tom Izzo, Michigan State’s coach, said: “He was someone I idolized as soon as I arrived [in 1983] – Bobby Knight was the best.” “He helped me and treated me well. I wish more people knew how kind he was. He was a completely different person, but if he needed help, he answered the bell. “The game has lost an iconic.”
Always a favorite picture of Bob Knight. Although we never got him back to @IndianaMBB to be honored on our watch, I was so thankful when he finally did return. We were always going to REVERE what he accomplished and who he accomplished it with. Our deepest condolences. pic.twitter.com/sGCKnHvOO9
— Tom Crean (@TomCrean) November 1, 2023
RIP to the legendary Bob Knight. He was an American original. I had the honor of knowing him well, and while he wasn’t for everyone, I always truly liked, respected and admired him. As he once said of Henry Iba, of all the shadows cast in the game, his was the longest. pic.twitter.com/J3qcCLTSIP
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) November 1, 2023
Bob Knight is unique in his coaching abilities and his colorful personality. Please pray for Bob Knight’s family and loved ones.