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Knight: My Story


Knight: My Story

He is a lightening rod for sports fans around the world. The mere mention of his name elicits cheers and jeers and very few shrugs of indifference. He will forever bear the title given to him by Dick Vitale --- "The General," Robert Montgomery Knight.

His life has been the subject of a best selling book, A SEASON ON THE BRINK, by John Feinstein and television movie of the same name. Beyond the Feinstein book are countless reports, exposés, and articles. Throughout this coverage, Knight has maintained a stoic silence. Now, in KNIGHT: My Story by Bob Knight and Bob Hammel, The General has weighed in with a personal view of his three decade coaching career and many of the controversies that have erupted. Along the way, Knight offers a humorous, self-deprecating view that may surprise those few individuals who have yet to form an opinion about coach Bobby Knight.

Regardless of how Bobby Knight is viewed, there can be no doubt that the achievements of his career are a ticket to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Knight was a player and is coach of NCAA basketball teams. In addition, his 1976 team at Indiana was the last NCAA championship team to be undefeated throughout the season. Knight also coached the 1984 Olympic team to a gold medal. He has coached college teams to nearly 800 victories and he is on track to achieve more career victories than any major college coach.

In KNIGHT: My Story, Knight discusses every aspect of his life from high school athletics to coaching. Along the way, he offers opinions on a wide range of subjects. His coaching philosophy is one of control and confidence. Knight dislikes the three point shot and shot clock because they are "talent oriented rules." According to Knight, such rules reduce the control of the game by a coach. Those rules do not reward intelligent play, and more than anything else, Knight believes that intelligent play should be rewarded. Coaches confident in their own abilities dislike rules that stifle coaching talent.

But a non-coaching anecdote from Knight's life may say more about the coach than any basketball story he tells. While head coach at Army, Knight was driving in Pennsylvania to attend a clinic. At about midnight, on a lonely section of road, he ran out of gas. He was picked up by a bus driver and obtained a can of gas and headed back to his car. Ten or twelve miles from his car he was forced to hitchhike the rest of the way. Finally, a young woman with a baby picked him up. She drove Knight back to his car, and as he was getting out of the car, he gave her a lecture. "Don't you ever pick up anybody at night," he told her. "You're out of your mind doing that…don't ever, ever, by yourself, in particular with your baby, give anybody a ride." Only Bob Knight could lecture a person who had just helped him in a moment of need.

Despite the thoroughness of his story, Knight is strangely silent about those episodes in his life that have made him a controversial legend. The infamous thrown chair during a game against Purdue merits less than a full paragraph of discussion. Likewise, the coach, in a brief discussion, sloughs off the allegation of striking a police officer during the Pan American Games in Puerto Rico. The allegation of choking former Indiana player Neil Reed is mentioned as an incident that Coach Knight simply cannot recall. Given his remarkable recall of other events, his memory loss on this matter does not ring true. One wishes for a more vigorous discussion of these incidents. Even an admission of wrongdoing would be better than the all too brief discussion that makes Bob Knight appear indifferent to conduct that to any reasonable person appears inappropriate.

The Bobby Knight of KNIGHT: My Story is a man who strongly admires and respects tradition, loyalty, and other valuable character attributes. He gives praise to great coaches who aided his career and is not reluctant to give credit to countless individuals from numerous walks of life who offered him guidance and assistance in his life. From Vince Lombardi to Curt Gowdy to his players, Bob Knight shares the glory with many who helped him achieve his success. Many with lesser accomplishments are not nearly as willing to acknowledge the contributions of others to their achievements.

In the end, KNIGHT: My Story will not change many minds. Knight haters will ignore the book, while Knight fans will devour it. Neither camp will be moved from their passionate positions. But if you are one of those few undecided, or if you are willing to reevaluate your position, pick up a copy of this book. You will see a side of Bob Knight that is not normally presented either in print or in television. You may even be pleasantly surprised by the self-portrait of man who has quite a bit to say.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on March 1, 2003

Knight: My Story
Bob Knight and Bob Hammel

  • Publication Date: March 1, 2003
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 0312311176
  • ISBN-13: 9780312311179