Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Night Knight Knighted A Prince

In the aftermath of the hub-bub re: Bob Knight's quick-jab uppercut to Michael Prince's chin, it was a little troubling how many people missed one pertinent fact.
Despite the various TV-camera angles, it was extremely difficult to determine the logo arrangement on Knight's black sweater.
For example, last year, the Texas Tech interlocking "TT" logo was on the left breast while the green-letters-with-white-borders for for O'Reilly Auto Parts logo was positioned on the right breast.
From the not-so-clear replays of the Prince-chin-meeting-Knight-fist on Monday, it almost appeared as if the "TT" is missing entirely, replaced by the O'Reilly logo.

And THAT is the angle which needs exploring ... the juxtapositioning and re-juxtapostioning of "TT" and O'Reilly in the b-ball/Lubbock universe.
The reason that "TT"/O'Reilly renders all other viewpoints moot is simple.
1) It's college b-ball (so who gives a flying fig?)
2) It's college b-ball in Lubbock, Tex. (where the only two sports are Red Raider Football and Red Raider Spring Football)
3) It's a Bobby Knight issue (the guy who puts the "DICK" in "contraDICtion")

Any time there's a physical indiscretion involving Bobby Knight, the lightning rod which is "The General" divides a nation.
"He's a bully!"
"No, he's his own man!"

'Round n' 'round it goes -- although, it goes 'round n' 'round w/o two of his ex-biggest supporters here in the Haystack Hacienda.
For the record, Mrs. PF7 was there on the floor in Assembly Hall when Knight flung the chair across the court (the seat tumbled and skidded directly at her) ... and she was the person for whom Knight kicked John Feinstein out of a chair during a Hoosiers practice (so that he could inquire about a potential recruit).
And, she was the one who snapped a photo of the Pitchfork and the General after his team outlasted Ohio State during the first week of Jan. '96.
Interestingly, the brief encounter was highlighted by a pre-snapshot shuffling about wherein Knight violated his snapshot co-star.
That's right ... Knight grabbed me brusquely about the shoulders and forcibly moved me from his left side to his right (I suspected that it was because he probably read something in Sun Tzu's "Art of War" which instructed all warriors to keep assumed enemies positioned on his right side during Kodak Moments -- or because Judas sat to the left of Jesus at the Last Supper, whatever ...).

The transgressions of Monday night served as another point on the timeline wherein the IU grad that I married no longer bothers to take a pro-Knight stance, but, instead diffuses the controversy by replaying "Untold Lowlights In The History of Hypocrisy."
As a pair of reformed apologists, we make a pretty good pair when it comes to dredging up little-known facts which would make Knight worshippers cringe.
Such as the time in the autumn of '85 when my girl was enrolled in Knight's "Coaching of Basketball" class. On the first day, Bob asked the students, "How many of you are thinking that you will NOT become coaches one day?"
My girl and another student raised their hands.
Bob: "Then why the hell are you in this class?"
Her: "Because I wrote a letter to you and you said 'OK.' "

In retrospect, she shoulda ended her reply with the word "numbnuts" -- but that's water under the bridge now.
Good gravy, she has A LOT of stories -- anecdotes and sidebars which don't carry much weight any more now that Bob's not actually a molder of disciplined. principled men, but merely a custodian for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Basketball Empire until That Lifeless, Vanilla, Cardboard Cutout Named Patrick Knight takes over the O'Reilly b-ball coaching duties at the beginning of the '09-'10 season.

Some of us got out before it was too late ... that is, before Bob was allowed to further pollute my stem cells as he'd done circa '87-'94. Once it became abundantly clear that every word out of his mouth simply BEGS to be refuted, well, it was time to move on.
Simply put, the genesis of our disconnect hinged on differing viewpoints re: Ulysses S. Grant's status as a great American.
Knight never came clean and informed his followers which Ulysses S. Grant he held in such regard. Was it was the fall-down-drunk Ulysses S. Grant who resigned from the army in 1854, went to Missouri and failed at farming and real estate before returning to the military and rising to the rank of brigadier general? (that's "drunken brigadier general" to you, Mister)
Or was it the drunken President Grant, whose two-term administration was fraught with corruption, ranging from the Jay Gould scandal of 1869, the Credit Mobiler scandal of 1872, the Panic of 1873 (which triggered a deep, economic depression) and the Whiskey Ring scandal of 1875?

That's the trouble with icons -- they are defenseless against iconoclasts, mostly because we who are engaged in iconoclasticism are more dedicated than those who have achieved an iconic plateau.

To act as an antidote (a "serum," if you will) for all the pro-Knight poison which might've invaded the bloodstream, it's always best to inject a full syringe of the Playboy interview from the Mar. '01 issue (FYI: centerfold Miriam Gonzalez has the same birthday as Jack Lambert, Kevin Bacon and the Pitchfork).
What follows is the priceless recounting of the dialogue between Playboy contributing editor Lawrence Grobel was in the passenger seat as Knight was behind the wheel on a 6-hour trip from Bloomington to Akron where Daddy, during that year in purgatory ('00-'01), went to visit Sonny (Patrick), who, at the time, was an assistant coach for the Akron Zips.
The fireworks began when Grobel gave Knight a status update on that kid who sparked a national scandal by asking, "What's up, Knight?"

PLAYBOY: "(Kent) Harvey and his two brothers withdrew from the university (Indiana) and left the state. What do you think of that?"
Knight: "I have not followed what direction their lives have taken."
PLAYBOY: "Do you feel for the kid?"
Knight: "Not in the slightest."
PLAYBOY: "Was he wrong in saying anything about you?"
Knight: "The kid's stepfather used me. He talked about how I said 'fuck this' and 'fuck that' and 'goddamned this' and 'goddamned that.' The total content of what I said was this, verbatim, 'Son, I don't call people by their last name. My name to you is 'Coach' or 'Mr. Knight' and you should remember that when you're dealing with elders.' And I walked away. Would it piss you off?"
PLAYBOY: "What?"
Knight: "Would what was said by the stepfather piss you off?"
PLAYBOY: "Didn't the stepfather also say he didn't think you should be fired over this incident?"
Knight (bangs the center of the steering wheel with his fist): "Jesus Christ! This is bullshit! I'm not here for a fucking inquisition! And if that's what this is, then get the fuck out and hitchhike back home! The fucking stepfather was a fucking gaoddamn fucking asshole from the word goddamn go. He fucking lied and he lied and he lied! Jesus Christ! I mean, this is my fucking life we're talking about! My fucking heart was ripped out by this goddamn bullshit!"
Knight: "OK, my ass! It isn't OK! Goddamn it, I don't need this shit with 'Playboy' or anybody else! I'll drop you off in fucking Dayton and you can get home."
PLAYBOY: "Please, Coach ..."
Knight: "This is fucking bullshit! I don't want to hear another fucking word."

And that's when Lawrence Grobel shoulda said, "Before you drop me off in fucking Dayton, do you mind if I not say another fucking word while listening to this Metallica CD? And, say, whaddya think of our this month's playmate, Miriam Gonzalex?"
(Laugh track)

For what it's worth, Knight agreed to the Playboy interview one year after my Mrs. sent an e-mail to then-IU president Myles Brand in the wake of "Neilgate."
Amid the videotaped evidence that Knight jammed his talons into Neil Reed's flesh, Mrs. PF7 advised Brand to carefully consider Knight's future before the coach did something regrettable.
My girl alluded to Knight's proclamation in that "Coaching of Basketball" class in '85 that he would never allow one of his players to embarrass the university.
Five months after the Mrs. sent her e-mail on Apr. 20 (Brand replied Apr. 24), Knight was ousted.

Oddly enough, this Playboy transcript was dredged up from the Pitchfork archives ... from a communique which I sent five years ago to a Knight devotee -- Deadspin associate editor, Rick Chandler.
Rick's first showdown with Knight was at Hyatt Rickey's in Palo Alto in '82 (a few years before Rick took a trip to the heart of Indiana to see Damon Bailey play for Bedford North Lawrence) -- and, unbeknownst to him, Rick was influential in getting me on board the Bobby Bandwagon sometime early in '87.
Though Rick and I maintain semi-regular contact, we've remained silent about boycotting the pro-Knight rallies on the quad.
My suspicion is that Rick has some strong feelings about a place known as "Fucking Dayton."

The Playboy interview is what makes Knight a laughable hypocrite. Dropping F-bombs in print ... in a skin mag ... perfect.
In case anyone asks, Knight was only the third or fourth most-noteworthy pussy in that Mar. 21, 2001 edition.

And, yes ... we WILL re-print the "(he) bangs the center of the steering wheel" funfest when Knight breaks the all-time career wins record in December.
Maybe it's because we feel it's our duty to defend Fucking Dayton from the anti-Daytonists.

Sadly, the other factor in play here is all those folks who deny that Michael Prince's head snapped up due to a Knight chin-punch.
The Knightistas claim either "he didn't hit him" or "that's all part of coaching."

Makes perfect sense, once we acknowledge THAT viewpoint.
Y'know, just like throwing a garden rake at your lover's rear windshield as he/she is driving away is "love" ... or when you bounce the TV remote off of your lover's forehead ... or when you slam your lover up against the bedroom wall before you go home to your girlfriend of five years ... these are the unwritten rules of love.
"That's all part of 'relationships.' "

Still, the "denialists" who refuse to admit that an indiscretion actually took place ... god bless them, one and all.
Such an attitude serves as a reminder of when Rick Chandler WOULDN'T show up wearing IU shorts and I WASN'T wearing an IU t-shirt for blacktop b-ball sessions at Burton Park and, during a stoppage in play in a tense game, I DIDN'T angrily punt the ball onto the adjacent tennis courts or DIDN'T slam the ball into the chain-link fence which separated the basketball courts from the adjacent courts.
And I NEVER rattled off a dozen F-bombs while sitting on the bench between games, wolfing down a Marlboro after failing to knock down a few 20-footers or perhaps clanking a putback.

Never happened, right Knight?
Just as when Knight agreed to do "The Larry King Show" and Lare showed the footage of Knight thrusting his claw into Neil Reed's neck.
Lare: "Did you choke him?"
Knight: "No."
Lare: "What was that then?"
Knight: "I don't know."

Nobody knows ... which is the problem in this world of enigmatic coaches.
And, that's probably why, when all is said and done, it's best to ignore Bob and instead reminisce about coaches who are charismatic and not enigmatic.
Such as Coach Reeves at Carver High.
With all the times Salami or Goldstein turned the ball over, Coach never popped those guys with a semi-closed fist to the jawbone.
"And there's Thorp with the alley oop to Coolidge!"

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