- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Bob Knight is the imperfect perfectionist who forever exists outside the parameters of black and white, neither all good nor all bad, just old-fashioned enough to believe in the rightness of his convictions.

He clings to a man’s man vision of the world, which rarely passes the inspection of the enlightened ones.

Knight resists the simple deconstruction of the touchy-feely times, with a body of work and an intellect too impressive to de-emphasize because of the occasional outburst or the grabbing of a player’s neck.

Knight, of course, has emerged this March after being dismissed as a relic of a bygone era.

This is his vindication of sorts, with the backwater basketball program of Texas Tech previously deemed incorrigible.

This is his moment to point to the fallacies and flaccidness of the aptly dubbed “perfect people” of the national press.

He has added another impressive line to his biography in a game that supposedly passed him by in Bloomington, Ind. He has done it the usual way, preaching the tenets of a game that never go stale.

Knight remains as feisty as ever, unbowed before the emotional scar of Indiana University.

He expressed anew his distaste of Myles Brand and Mike Davis, simple declarations of principle interpreted to be mean-spirited.

Of the sinking stewardship of Mike Davis, Knight told Sporting News Radio: “They created that for themselves. The guy that’s coaching there is a guy that I told Pat [Knight, his son and an assistant at Texas Tech] we were going to replace at the end of the season. There’s no way I would have kept the guy any longer than that. That’s their problem.”

You could go to Knight in another five years and receive a similar assessment of the principals. It is who he is, unbending and unyielding to the core.

In this respect, Knight always has made it too easy for his detractors. He says what he thinks, and sometimes he says it again with greater emphasis. His public relations acumen always has deferred to his need to make a higher point.

His point exposes another.

Candor is deemed a positive only if it is acceptable to the “perfect people,” tormented as they are by the quandary. They inevitably want the truth, only to recoil if the truth is not their truth. So they end up denouncing both the practitioners of the innocuous sound bite and the candid.

Counterproductive as it is at times, Knight invites the chattering of the national press.

For someone portrayed to be so at odds with the chroniclers, Knight actually enjoys the sparring. He even can be incredibly engaging. He is a commanding speaker with a quick wit. He can tell an anecdote with the best. Yet that side of him is rarely revealed.

“You’re not going to turn on ‘SportsCenter’ if he has his arm around some guy,” his son said last weekend. “He’s his own worst enemy. They play all the bad stuff.”

His son voices an old but accurate truth.

The sun rising from the east is hardly the stuff to hike newspaper circulation and television ratings.

As a coach who occasionally goes wild, Knight meets the base interest of the masses. His is a hard box to escape, as John Chaney has found at Temple. Three or four incidents are enough to skew an impeccable coaching career.

In his 64th year, Knight has built his case anew. He has taken a modestly equipped team to the Sweet 16, in what would be one of the feel-good outcomes of the NCAA tournament if not for the baggage.

It was an 18-9 team going into the Big 12 tournament. It is a team that features Ronald Ross, a walk-on who has developed into one of the top guards of the Big 12 in four years.

Take it from one who knows Knight’s other side.

“A great coach,” Ross said. “Look where we are now.”


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