When it comes to basketball coaching legend Bob Knight, Wikipedia’s got it all wrong.
They’ve made Knight’s page way too long.
It only really needs two sentences: Bob Knight is a former American college basketball head coach.
And he is an idiot.
Keep in mind, I don’t mean just any idiot; Knight is—in nearly way—the epitome of the babbling, temperamental, and egotistical idiot America has come to love to hate—and rightfully so.
This isn’t to say that Bob Knight hasn’t achieved plenty of success in the sports world. He’s been a talented coach—leading the Indiana Hoosiers to three NCAA championships, 11 Big Ten Conference championships, and one National Invitation Tournament (NIT) championship—and he’s one of only three coaches to win an NCAA title, NIT title, and an Olympic gold medal, which he did as the coach of the 1984 US Men’s Basketball Team.
Yet, we hardly know him for his basketball intellect, nor do we joyfully clamor about the squeaky-clean programs he ran at Indiana and Texas Tech.
It’s a shame, really, for Knight has no one to blame but himself—the spoiled, attention-driven man-child who nearly always speaks and acts without thinking (picture a not-so-funny, vulgar, and more talented version of Charles Barkley as a coach, and you’ll get Bob Knight).
After all, no one instructed him to chuck a chair across a basketball court to protest a call—not even the WWF.
No one forced him to compare awful refereeing to rape and claim, “I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it”—not even Kobe Bryant.
No one persuaded him to not shake Illinois coach Lou Henson’s hand after a game in 1991—not even Bill Belichick.
No one encouraged him to whip, kick, head-butt, choke, and hit various players that played for him over the years—not even Dodgeball’s Patches O’Houlihan.
And certainly no one taught Knight to accidentally shoot friend Thomas Mikunda in the back while hunting—not even Dick Cheney.
Now, to prove that he’s as ridiculous as ever, Bob Knight has recently taken up to defending A-Rod’s use of steroids by stating that even Gatorade is a “performance-enhancing drug.”
Yes, you read that correctly. Gatorade. The stuff that’s made of water with coloring, sugar, sodium, and potassium.
Bob Knight, should we banish bananas too, since they contain potassium? Or does it have to also have food coloring to be considered illegal?
I don’t know if Knight truly believes in the nonsense spewing from his mouth, or if he simply does it for the attention. What I do know is that it’s time for Knight to disappear from the public eye if he insists on behaving the same way.
For a legendary coach, like Bob Knight, to so nonchalantly turn his position of reverence and impact into a laughingstock on blogs and Youtube is nothing short of a travesty.
I’m not saying that Knight isn’t capable of doing nice things or positively impacting his players. In fact, most of Knight’s players have remained loyal and supportive of Knight despite his shenanigans.
What I am saying, is that Knight could do so much more with the influential power he’s earned as a talented player and coach. The positive influence Knight could have on not only the players and coaches he interacts with, but on young kids aspiring to one day become basketball players and coaches is far greater than the negative persona he currently emits.
And if he’s not willing to utilize that potential, then he needs to shut up or leave the sport of basketball.
Think about it.
Why complain about referees when you can calmly coach your team to victory and teach your players about success in the face of adversity?
Why speak in profanity-laden tirades when you can offer knowledgeable and sophisticated advice about the game of basketball?
And why irrationally debase a healthy teen-friendly drink when you can use your influence to vehemently discourage steroid use?
These are all questions that make sense to most of us.
Just not to idiots, and not to Bob Knight.
This article originally appeared in the Harvard Independent.