I was listening to a podcast put up by peegs the other day where Ken Bikoff talked about what the national media gets wrong about IU fans. His point is basically that the only time Bob Knight’s name gets brought up anymore it’s because the national media is bringing it up. IU fans don’t want Knight and have grown tired of him over the last 17 years – some had grown tired of him long before.
In other words, the national media says the specter of Bob Knight hangs over the program and 17 years after his ouster, and that just isn’t true.
I disagree with Ken’s conclusion, though not the supporting evidence as he presents it. It’s just that he’s leaving out a lot of evidence. The specter of Bob Knight is EVERYWHERE. Let me explain.
Ken’s right, most IU fans have been done with Knight for a long time. No one wants him to come back and coach. A decreasing number even care if he’s going to come back to Assembly Hall to be honored. Some are actively angry at him for not showing up for the ceremony honoring the ’76 team. Most just shrugged their shoulders, shook their heads, and muttered, “of course he did” when he wished death on the people who fired him two weeks ago on Dan Patrick’s radio show.
The person of Bob Knight is no longer needed, wanted, or considered on a day-to-day basis.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t play a huge role in the minds of IU basketball fans.
Ask yourself this, IU fans: If there’s no Bob Knight, no 1975, 1976, 1981, 1987, 1993 what would you expect from IU basketball every year? What would you consider a successful season?
I’d wager a lot of money that two Big Ten titles in 4 years would be viewed pretty favorably, even with down years and missed tournaments immediately following. If you’re not measuring against 3 NCAA titles in 11 years, that’s pretty good.
Or ask yourself this, IU fans: How much of your understanding of basketball comes from watching Bob Knight explain the game to you during his pre-game show, his radio show, or the gloriously insane Bob Knight Show?
For any IU fan over 30, Bob Knight taught the game and set the bar for success. And these lessons and expectations hold today.
IU fans don’t require man-to-man defense and the motion offense, but bad defense and turnovers are fundamental flaws that cannot be overlooked. When IU fans talk about playing the game “the right way” their talking about meeting the standards of play and classroom performance that Knight set. “The right way” mostly means, “The Knight Way.”
IU is still seen as a blue blood program because of Bob Knight, and rightfully so. And because the cost for admission to this national conversation was paid, in large part, by the success of Bob Knight, the national media is 100% correct to filter everything they see through that lens.
You think PTI does a segment on the IU coaching job without Bob Knight? I don’t watch every day, but can you tell me their take on the Missouri job, the Washington job? If they had one, I’d be a little surprised.
Now, they’re wrong if they say that we want Bob Knight to come walking back through that door, but to say that he doesn’t hang over everything in the program is incorrect.
He’s like your first girlfriend.
She’s the bar against which you judge all future relationships. You don’t wish you were still together. In fact, it’s a blessing that you’re not – can you imagine still being with her now? But she still informs your world view to some extent and always will. Probably more than you realize and likely more than she should.
That’s Bob Knight to IU Basketball fans.