Hall of Fame coach and three-time NCAA National Champion Bob Knight passed away on Wednesday at the age of 83. The former Indiana head coach, who was almost as famous for his fiery attitude off the court than his immense success on it, had recently made peace and moved back to Bloomington after two decades.
A brief recap from Indiana Athletics on Knight’s legendary career at IU:
“While he enjoyed tremendous success at each of his three head coaching stops, he became a larger-than-life figure in the sport thanks to his accomplishments in Bloomington. Hired by IU at the age of 30 in 1971, he led the program to three NCAA titles (1976, 1981, 1987), five Final Fours (1973, 1976, 1981, 1987, 1992), and 11 Big Ten Regular Season Championships (1973-76, 1980-81, 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993) in his 29 years as head coach. Knight’s 1976 team, which went 32-0 on its way to the NCAA title, remains the most recent to go undefeated on its way to an NCAA title. His 1975 and 1976 teams, meanwhile, each went undefeated (18-0) in Big Ten play, and no Big Ten team has gone undefeated in a single season in league play since. Indiana’s 37 consecutive Big Ten wins during that period also established a new conference standard that has never been seriously threatened.
Knight’s dominance at IU stretched through all three decades that he coached in Bloomington. The 1970s included four Big Ten titles, two Final Fours, and one of the greatest teams in college basketball history with the undefeated 1976 national champions. As great as the 1970s were, the 1980s were even better. College basketball’s most successful team during the decade, Knight’s teams captured two NCAA titles and five Big Ten championships. In the 1990s, the Hoosiers won two more league crowns, advanced to another Final Four, earned 10 NCAA tourney bids, and four straight Sweet 16 trips. The 1990s also featured one of Knight’s greatest teams to not win an NCAA title, as the 1993 team went 17-1 in the Big Ten, was the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, and featured four players that would eventually be first-round NBA Draft picks.”
He also coached at Army (1966-71), where one of his former players and assistants would go on to pass him as the all-time winningest coach in men’s D-I college basketball history: Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.
One of Knight’s former players, Mike Woodson, is now the Hoosiers’ head coach. He recently praised Knight to the crowd at Hoosier Hysteria and has made sure to bring him back around the program and the community that loved him for so long.
Woodson had this to say on Wednesday:
“It is a profoundly sad day for all of us who loved Coach Knight. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Karen, his family, and to all those who loved him. I am so blessed that he saw something in me as a basketball player. He influenced my life in ways I could never repay. As he did with all of his players, he always challenged me to get the most out of myself as a player and more importantly, as a person. His record as a basketball coach speaks for itself. He will be remembered as one of the greatest ever and his impact on the game of basketball is etched in stone. His teams were always prepared and with him on the sideline, you always believed that he put you in the best position to win. I will always cherish the time we spent together after I played for him. His fierce loyalty to his former players never wavered. I am grateful that he was able to come to our practices after I came back. His presence meant so much to me, our staff, and our players.”
After IU, he was the head coach at Texas Tech from 2000-08 and then later spent many years working in television for ESPN. He often made trips back to the state of Indiana, but avoided Bloomington for many years after the fallout of his September 2000 firing.
However, in February 2020, following some on-campus sightings and rumors of purchasing a house in town, Knight was officially honored on the court in Assembly Hall alongside a number of his former players, including Woodson, Isiah Thomas, Quinn Buckner, Scott May, his son Pat Knight, and so many others that he coached during his time there. The game was against Purdue, the same team the Hoosiers were playing in that building in 1985 when Knight famously hurled a chair across the court after receiving a technical foul for one of his signature screaming matches with a referee.
Knight was also a star player himself. The Ohio-native spent four years at Ohio State and helped the Buckeyes reach three-straight NCAA title games, alongside Hall of Famers John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas, winning it all in 1960.
credit to Indiana Athletics for the image