- Associated Press - Sunday, September 19, 2010

HAMMOND, IND. (AP) - Bob Knight was screaming at players, berating officials and hurling that chair across the court again.

It was all there on that introductory highlight video, prime fodder for a general roasting of “The General.”

Back in Indiana a decade after his firing, the former Hoosiers coach was the honored guest this time at a roast to benefit Chicago’s St. Joseph High School on Saturday.

For one night, no one was debating Indiana’s decision to fire him 10 years ago. This was a night of unity involving one of the most polarizing figures in the state and the game, one dominated by laughter and praise, and Knight wasn’t discussing his former employer.

Asked afterward about recent efforts by athletic director Fred Glass and others to reconnect, he had little to say.

“You want to talk about tonight, fine,” he said.

A line of dignitaries from master of ceremonies Jay Bilas to George Raveling, Jerry Colangelo, Jud Heathcote, Digger Phelps and Isiah Thomas sure had fun at his expense.

For that matter, so did Knight.

He jumped onstage at a suburban Chicago casino and jokingly berated Bilas at the start, then got a standing ovation when he was formally introduced minutes later, with one fan screaming, “Welcome back to Indiana!”

Knight smiled. Others cheered.

“I’ve known Bob for 35 years, and if any of you need a friend, get a dog,” Raveling advised.

Later, he turned serious and said, “If I had to count on my right hand five great, loving, loyal friends, Bob would be amongst those five.”

Thomas, who starred at St. Joseph and Indiana before a Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Pistons, said Knight, “Never cheated anyone. He gave his all to all to all of us.”

Whether he’s loved or loathed, one thing can’t be debated: Indiana hasn’t been the same since that public and bitter split with Knight.

Ten years after a 19-year-old student accused Knight of grabbing him by the arm, Knight and the university remain mostly estranged, far apart on paths that have taken them in opposite directions.

Story Continues →