I can think of no better way to mark Bobby Knight's 880th coaching victory than with the photo above — with coach looking slightly deranged, grabbing players' necks, and no doubt ready to say something untoward into a microphone. What to say about Bob Knight that you haven't already heard? Here's our humble contribution.
It was my first year working at a real newspaper — the Peninsula Times-Tribune in Palo Alto, Ca., fresh out of high school. The sports editor, who had quite a sense of humor, figured he'd give me an easy assignment to start me off. "Bobby Knight is appearing at a basketball clinic," he said. "Go get an interview with him."
"Sure," I said, in my best Jimmy Olsen voice. I knew very little about Knight at the time, and had no idea that the assignment was our paper's version of a hazing incident. The clinic, at a local hotel, featured Jim Valvano and a few other coaches I now forget, but the highlight was Knight. While Valvano did his usual stand-up comedy set, Knight actually imparted useful information; I still recall his instructions on how to set a proper screen, and how to take a charge (useful here at Deadspin). When he was done, I positioned myself in the hall outside so as to intercept him. "Could I ask you a few questions, coach Knight?"
By all rights, I discovered later, they should have found me lounging head-first in restaurant dumpster outside. But Knight stopped and said, "OK." We talked for about 20 minutes — during which time Knight shooed off three or four others — and then I headed back to the office. "How did that interview go?" asked my editor, as other reporters snickered. "OK I guess," I replied. "But he only gave me 20 minutes." My editor immediately gave that kind of blank look your 2-year-old gets when you put him on the phone. "Wha? ..."
I can't explain any of it; just that my first story for a real newspaper was a rather lengthy, amicable interview with Bobby Knight. For another view, please enjoy the musings of Planet Haystack, a former Times-Tribune colleague who has had his own close encounters with The General. — RC