Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Enough Already

Would someone please explain to Bob Knight the meaning of the word "restraint"? This is not about old school versus new school. This is not about a witch hunt, or about "soft modern player", or about anything other than Bob Knight, his ego, and the line in the sand that he constantly feels compelled to step across.

Yes, the little chuck on the chin he gave one of his players the other night was no big deal. He said so, the player said so, the players' parents said so, and for all I know the three-headed, bug-eyed denizens of Proxima Centauri IV said so. That's not the point, nor has it been, not for a long while.

Coach Knight has done many admirable things in his career. He's also done some mind-bogglingly stupid ones, and included in that number is the constant inability to remember that he is not God, the university president, or the commandante of a small, basketball-playing banana republic. He is the basketball coach. No matter how many games he wins, someone else makes the rules.

When Knight finally got his keister booted from Indiana, it was entirely his own fault. He had been informed of the "Zero Tolerance" policy was under, and let's face it, the words "zero tolerance" do not include a lot of wiggle room for interpretation. They certainly did not include "zero tolerance except if you think it's a good idea", "zero tolerance except if you choke a kid who's too familiar with you," or "zero tolerance unless you win a few more games". The only way to read that sequence of events is that Knight took the disciplinary policy as a challenge, not as an order from his boss, and proceeded to challenge it.

He lost that challenge. He got fired. But he learned nothing, because he landed on his feet and went right back to what he was doing. He got away with it before, and he's getting away with it now.

Look, it doesn't matter if this was a harmless love tap or not. Bob Knight laying hands on a player under any circumstances is like Bill Clinton walking into a women's dressing room. People will talk. Old incidents will be brought up. And another log will be put onto a bonfire of evidence, regardless of the merits of that particular incident. One of these days, there will be a spark.

If he's a smart man, and all the evidence says he is, Knight knows this. He knows that constantly bringing this pressure on himself, his players, and his employer isn't beneficial to anyone. He knows that sooner or later, it's all going to be too much for someone, be it a player, an administrator, a parent, or God forbid, a prosecutor. Yet he continues to do it, daring the world to say anything about it.

It wouldn't have been that hard not to plonk the kid on the chin. Really, it wouldn't. But then again, in this one aspect of his behavior, Bob Knight is not smart. He's Bob Knight.
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