When it comes to the world of sports, certain figures stand out, not just for their achievements but for their personalities and rivalries. Two such prominent names in the realm of college basketball were Bobby Knight and John Wooden. This article dives deep into their tumultuous relationship and the controversy surrounding Bobby Knight, who was often seen as a bully, and his apparent disdain for John Wooden.
Bobby Knight’s Notorious Reputation
Bobby Knight, the legendary college basketball coach, was a man known for stirring mixed emotions among fans and colleagues alike. His death brought forth a multitude of opinions, some expressing sadness, admiration, and even disgust. While some labeled him an "enigma," others believed that this was an oversimplification. One individual who got up close and personal with Knight, John Feinstein, painted a more accurate picture. Feinstein authored a best-selling book about Knight, but their relationship soured after its publication. Why? Because Feinstein dared to tell the truth.
A Bully on the Court
Knight’s behavior on and off the court was far from enigmatic; it was often described as abrasive and bully-like. For those who subscribed to the belief that "only wins and losses count," his actions were forgiven due to his impressive coaching record. Knight was infamous for his chair-throwing incidents, berating referees, and verbally assaulting players and opponents. He even made derogatory comments towards female sportswriters and sports officials. Such behavior was overlooked by those who prioritized winning above all else.
Over time, Knight’s confrontational attitude wore down those who dared to stand up to him or tried to make him see the error of his ways. This is a common trait of bullies – they persistently assert their dominance.
Surviving the Storm
One person who managed to form an unlikely friendship with Bobby Knight was Bob Hammel, a sports editor and columnist in Bloomington, Indiana, where Knight’s fame soared while coaching at Indiana University. Initially, their relationship was rocky, but eventually, they reached a truce and became lifelong friends. This was not an ideal scenario for a journalist, but Hammel chose to stick around because Indiana basketball was the town’s only sports attraction.
However, even in their friendship, Bobby Knight remained the center of attention. The night Hammel was honored at a special dinner in Bloomington, Knight couldn’t resist making it about himself. He berated a sportswriter at the event, turning the joyful atmosphere into one of discomfort and embarrassment.
Bobby Knight’s Dislike for John Wooden
For those who wish to paint Bobby Knight as a tough but likable character who felt he had to be unlikable to succeed, one facet of his personality disproves this notion – his intense dislike for John Wooden. This sets Knight apart from the majority of sports fans and the general public, as Wooden was universally loved.
The Contrast between Two Legends
John Wooden, the iconic UCLA coach, wasn’t driven by the desire to be loved, yet he was. He won 10 NCAA titles and spent his life giving credit to others. He was scholarly, thoughtful, generous, interesting, and, above all, an outstanding basketball coach. Wooden’s life extended beyond basketball, emphasizing the importance of personal growth and character.
The Berating Incident
The animosity between Bobby Knight and John Wooden was on full display during a dinner held in honor of Bob Hammel. The purpose of the event was to celebrate Hammel, but Knight, who was scheduled to give a tribute, used the opportunity to berate a sportswriter at the table for something written a year earlier. This outburst shifted the mood from warm and joyful to one of uncomfortable frowns and embarrassment.
By the time the sportswriter had a chance to respond or diffuse the situation with humor, Knight had already left the room, leaving Hammel’s special night far less festive.
The Petty Reason for Dislike
While Bobby Knight publicly stated that he didn’t like John Wooden due to the Sam Gilbert recruiting scandals in the early 1980s, it turned out that his animosity ran much deeper and was surprisingly petty. Despite Wooden retiring in 1975, Knight repeatedly criticized him for these scandals. It seemed that the real reason for Knight’s dislike was something more personal.
Bobby Knight’s reputation as a coach and his strained relationship with John Wooden reveal a complex and often contradictory personality. While his coaching record earned him admirers, his abrasive and bullying behavior alienated many. His public dislike for a universally respected figure like John Wooden further adds to the enigma that was Bobby Knight.
For those who witnessed his antics on and off the court, the image of Bobby Knight as a bully who didn’t like John Wooden remains a fascinating and perplexing aspect of sports history.
Unpacking the Dislike: Bobby Knight vs. John Wooden
Why does Bob Knight not respect John Wooden?
Bob Knight, the Hall of Famer and former Indiana coach, has been vocal about his lack of respect for John Wooden, the legendary UCLA coach who achieved a remarkable feat of winning 10 NCAA championships with the Bruins. Knight’s perspective stems from his belief that Wooden built the UCLA program using what he claims was unethical and dirty recruiting practices.
Was Bob Knight a fan of ‘the Wizard of Westwood’?
John Wooden, often affectionately referred to as "The Wizard of Westwood," was beloved by many during his lifetime. However, there was at least one prominent figure who wasn’t a fan of Wooden, and that person was fellow NCAA title-winning coach Bob Knight. Knight had reservations about how UCLA recruited players during their glory days, leading to his lack of admiration for the legendary coach.
Who is Bob Knight?
Bob Knight, widely known as "The General," had a distinguished coaching career. He initially served as the head coach at Army for six seasons before embarking on a 29-season journey with Indiana. During his tenure with the Hoosiers, Knight achieved great success, leading them to three national championships in 1976, 1981, and 1987. However, his time at Indiana came to an end in a highly publicized dismissal just before the 2000-2001 season.
How did Bobby Knight die?
Bob Knight, a prominent figure in college basketball known for his tempestuous personality, passed away at the age of 83. He died at his home in Bloomington, Indiana. The exact cause of his death was not provided in the announcement on his website.
Why did Bobby Knight dislike John Wooden?
Bob Knight arrived at Indiana in 1970 and achieved notable success with three NCAA titles. While their coaching paths didn’t intersect often, Knight publicly expressed his lack of admiration for John Wooden. He notably stated, "I’m not a fan of John Wooden," citing his reason as the Sam Gilbert recruiting scandals that plagued UCLA in the early 1980s.
What happened to Bob Knight?
The legendary basketball coach Bob Knight retired from coaching in February 2008. Following his retirement, he transitioned to a career in broadcasting and joined ESPN. In his new role, he served as a studio analyst during Championship Week and made appearances during the NCAA tournament. Knight was also seen reporting from San Antonio at the Final Four.
What did Mike Woodson say about Bob Knight?
Following his first NCAA tournament win as the head coach of IU basketball, Mike Woodson took a moment to express his appreciation for his longtime coach, Bob Knight.