Dick Vitale always called Bobby Knight “The General.” I’ve always said simply that he’s a leader of men, pure and simple. That is, young men who want to become better men.
I’ve always been a fan of Knight’s. Yes, I know, I know. He has had some legendary anger management issues that has checkered his career, including a famous chair throwing incident in 1985. But my respect for him is there because he always did two things right. First, he made sure his players paid attention to their studies, making sure they were not just there to be basketball goons.
Secondly and more importantly: he followed NCAA rules to the letter, and that meant everyone he coached followed those rules without exception. Once in Steve Alford’s career, he agreed to pose for a calendar photo for an on-campus charity, which was against NCAA rules at the time. Alford was suspended one game, and Coach Knight lambasted his pupil mercilessly for costing him victory against Kentucky in the game Alford sat out. Harsh, yes, but the point was made, taken, and understood from that point on.
Last night, the 75 year old Knight endorsed Donald Trump, which carries some weight (or should) because Knight rarely does political endorsements. Some in the media say it’s merely a sign of one bully enabling another bully. I have a slightly different point of view. I think Knight sees Trump as he sees himself: not cut out of anyone else’s cloth, a renegade, a guy who leads as he chooses to lead. While Trump isn’t my cup of tea, I kind of get where “The General” is coming from here.