Bob Knight has been retired since 2008, but he can still be seen as one of the best coaches in NCAA I men’s basketball. He would become head coach of four different teams, the Army Black Knights, Indiana Hoosiers, Texas Tech and the US Olympic team, but he is mostly remembered and still idolized as the coach of the Hoosiers. Over the course of his career, he won three NCAA championships, one National Invitation Tournament championship, 11 Big Ten Conference championships and an Olympic Gold Medal in 1984.
Knight got his first head coaching job at the age of 24 with the Army Black Knights, after being the assistant-coach for the team the two years before. in total, he spent eight years with the Army. He coached one notable player, Mike Krzyzewski, who would later become his assistant-coach.
In 1971, Knight was hired as the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers, where he would remain until 2000. During that time, Knight maintained a .735 winning percentage. In 1976, the Hoosiers became the last college basketball team that was undefeated for an entire season. In between college seasons, he took the time to coach the US men’s basketball team to a gold medal in 1984. Furthermore, he perfected the motion offense, made his players play great lockdown defense, ran clean programs (meaning that none of them was ever sanctioned by the NCAA), and most of his players graduated.
It is a clear that he achieved great things with his teams, but his results were definitely overshadowed by his temper. Even though he won the title Coach of the Year 4 times and was named Big Ten coach of the year 8 times, his temper might be even more known than his results. His most famous temper outburst was in 1985, when he threw a chair on the court during a game against Purdue. Unlike what you might expect, this incident happened only five minutes into the game, when he argued a call and received a technical foul.
This incident was definitely not a one-time thing. Over the course of his career, it was reported that he punched IU’s sports information director, Kit Klingelhoffer, he was arrested for assaulting a police officer at the Pan America Games in 1971 and he berated and physically intimidated a university secretary. Furthermore, in 1991, unbeknown to him and most players one of his speeches was filmed and later spread on the internet. In the video, Knight used a lot of threats to try and motivate his team. It is striking that none of the players really remembers the incident, as it was a regular occurrence.
In the end, the year 2000 would be Knight’s last year at Indiana. CNN brought the news that Bob Knight had choked former player Neil Reed on practice back in 1997. At first, Knight denied the incident, but a few weeks later CNN aired a video where it was visible that he put his hand on Reed’s neck. Still, he wasn’t fired, but the Hoosiers said they would have a zero tolerance policy against Knight from that moment. That same year, Knight grabbed a student’s arm when he didn’t show Knight the right amount of respect. When Knight refused to resign, the Hoosiers relieved him of his coaching duties.
The following year, Knight took a coaching job at Texas Tech, and there he set the record for most wins as a coach. When he retired in 2008, he had a record of 902 wins and 371 losses. Since then, his record has been surpassed by Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, his former assistant-coach.