December 25, 2006


Knight, Smith reach top taking different routes (Robyn Norwood, December 25, 2006, LA Times)

Bob Knight and Dean Smith share little in image or personal style, but their ideas on basketball often converged. [...]

As Knight closed in on the record, tying it Saturday when Texas Tech beat Bucknell, The Times spoke to three contemporaries of the two men, quizzing them on a series of superlatives that ranged from serious to jesting.

Jim Calhoun has coached two NCAA championship teams at Connecticut and is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Gene Keady was Knight's adversary for many years when Knight was at Indiana and Keady was at Purdue. And broadcaster Dick Vitale has known both for decades, referring to them admiringly as "Robert Montgomery Knight" and "Michelangelo."

Best coach with a five-point lead and two minutes left:

• Calhoun: Bob Knight. When he had his best players, it was almost like they were in some kind of trance. I've heard other coaches say that. They played with such discipline.

• Keady: That's an even one. I played them both, and I want to say there wasn't much difference. Both were very well-organized, great strategists, with great players.

• Vitale: I want to be a politician here, but when you're coming down the stretch, a guy like Knight, he holds a lead. [...]

Best with less talent:

• Keady: Knight.

• Vitale: Knight could take even mediocre talent and get them to play their hearts out, to play to the best of their ability.

• Calhoun: Anybody who played for Knight instantly became better. He determined their role. I would say both could judge talent, and both could mold it. Steve Alford was a better college player because of Knight.

Best in a coaches' clinic:

• Vitale: I remember being a high school coach listening to Knight early in his career. I was absolutely in awe. So many concepts. He relishes those settings. Dean didn't like the public eye.

• Keady: They're probably equal clinicians.

• Calhoun: Dean is not as great a clinician, because he's a little secretive. He's probably most interested in social issues. I'd probably rather hear from Dean on social issues now.

Best at a booster club meeting:

• Vitale: I would give that edge without a doubt to Knight. Dean would rather not be part of a scene like that. Bob Knight can be hilarious when he's on a roll. He can rock the place.

• Keady: Probably Knight was the funniest at booster club meetings. I never heard Dean at one.

• Calhoun: No question, Bob is one of the most captivating speakers I've ever heard. I've heard Colin Powell, Mario Cuomo, Bill Clinton. Incredible. I put Bob Knight in the top five or six I ever heard speak. [...]

Best behind closed doors with his team:

• Keady: Bobby.

• Vitale: I think that's where both excelled. They were masters on a 94-by-50 court. There's no way I'd give an edge. That's their greatest asset.

• Calhoun: Bob Knight. I heard one of his meetings once, at the Great Alaska Shootout. We were sitting in the lounge and could hear it. It was an hour long. I wanted to go out and play. It was so captivating, we didn't move.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 25, 2006 11:10 AM

"I'd probably rather hear from Dean on social issues now."


Another testimony to Knight is that the man who will eventually surpass his record both played for him, and coached under him.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 25, 2006 12:43 PM