A Hoosier's heartache



Bob Knight looked tired.

Friday, as the national media swarm descended upon Bloomington, the coach leaned his head against a wall in an Assembly Hall office.

His blue-jean shorts, tennis shoes and casual shirt proved how unexpectedly the latest incident hit him. Maybe he should have expected this.

Knight talked to three of us from the IDS, perhaps in an effort to re-establish a relationship that has been tumultuous through the years. He mentioned some staff editorials and conflicts, but it was hard for me to focus. I saw the red eyes and heard the sighs, and I knew he couldn't survive under the new policy.

Knight told us he handled the incident in a routine way, and then went about the rest of his day without another thought about the freshman who would eventually help get him fired.

Sitting across from "the General" was something I'll never forget. To see Indiana's most famous resident sitting five feet away was a nerve-wracking brush with celebrity.

I grew up in Lanesville, Ind., where I looked forward to making the annual trip to Bloomington with my Dad to see the Hoosiers. It was more persuading than a horde of college recruiters.

My childhood heroes were basketball players such as Steve Alford, Todd Jadlow, Alan Henderson and for that brief time before he transferred, Jay Edwards.

The first vivid memory I have was sitting in my basement in 1987, watching Keith Smart sink a baseline runner to send us past the Syracuse Orangemen, 74-73. I jumped out my chair and rolled on the floor screaming.

But like most IU fans, my feelings for Knight will forever be mixed. I was in a New York restaurant on spring break, watching Pepperdine blow us out, when I finally realized I would never see us win a championship while I was at IU.

It seems a shame this incident would end Knight's IU career. It was hardly a black and white situation, with Knight and freshman Kent Harvey singing different tunes. Or in Knight's case, drawing it on a blackboard.

IU President Myles Brand said the Harvey incident was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Brand called it the toughest decision of his life. It should have been, having to fire a legend ' the most famous and infamous basketball coach in America. And if Knight verbally harassed a high-ranking University official and was insubordinate to Brand and Athletics Director Clarence Doninger, there was no other choice he could have made.

Brand gave him a fair chance, but Knight couldn't change. He's an old-school coach with old-school values, and people would have continued to bait him. It didn't have to be a freshman picking up football tickets.

I hope people won't blame this on Harvey, when Knight knew the rules he had to operate with, but I feel another Murray Sperber situation on the horizon.

As students rally and Bloomington police put on riot gear, I wish this could've ended in a better way. Like with Knight and the Hoosiers winning their sixth championship.

Instead, we'll have to settle with an Indianapolis press conference and a fishing trip to Canada.

And the firetrucks outside the Indiana Memorial Union and Bryan House.

I'm just glad I got a chance to talk with him, before he left us forever. But I'm not sure that'll help me sleep tonight.

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