Knight gets warm reception in Indiana

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During Knight’s 29 seasons, the Hoosiers went 661-240, won three national titles and they did it without a major NCAA violation. Knight set high standards, demanded discipline from them even though he often appeared to lose control, lashing out at referees, tossing a chair across the court, berating an NCAA tournament official, intimidating school employees and putting his hands on a player’s neck at practice.

That resulted in a zero-tolerance policy from then-university president Myles Brand in May 2000, and less than four months later, student Kent Harvey yelled “Hey, Knight, what’s up?” as he was buying football tickets.

The coach’s time, it turned out.

Harvey said Knight responded by grabbing and lecturing him, and although Knight said it didn’t happen that way, he was fired on Sept. 10, 2000.

What followed was a strong backlash against Indiana and fall from which it is still trying to lift itself, one that includes player suspensions, academic problems and alleged drug use within the program. Indiana has missed the NCAA tournament four times while going 177-144 and suffered through three losing seasons in a decade for the first time since the end of World War II. And coach Tom Crean is facing a steep climb as Indiana tries to re-establish in-state superiority over Purdue and NCAA runner-up Butler along with its national reputation, the one Knight built over decades.

“There is no greater person who has made this state what it is than Bob Knight,” said Phelps, the ESPN analyst and former Notre Dame coach.

It was a serious comment on a night where laughs dominated.

Knight spent most of it seated off to the side in a black chair chiming in, like when Colangelo brought up that infamous crosscourt heave.

“There’s a lady across the floor that reminded me of my grandmother,” he said. “She hollered at me prior to the free throw, and she said, ‘Coach, if you’re not going to use that chair, how about throwing it over to me? You see, that’s the press for you.”

Knight joked that he and another guy bought a furniture store the following week and “made a hell of a lot of money.”

“Our motto was, ‘You buy a couch and I throw in a chair,’” he said.

Heathcote, who’s recovering from a broken hip, said on video call from his home in Spokane, Wash.: “I thought he got pretty good distance” on that throw.

He said most people don’t like Knight when they meet him. “But after they get to know him, they hate him,” Heathcote said.

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