Mar 22nd, 2005 · Categories: Uncategorized · No Comments

Sports: Once a bully …

With Texas Tech’s surprising run to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen, we’ve been shown images of a kinder, gentler Bobby Knight. Does such a creature exist?

When I was a kid, one of the hallmarks of a bully was his willingness to kick someone when he was down. While Bobby Knight has been known to head-butt, choke, and stomp on players’ feet, I’ve never seen a report that he physically kicked someone lying on the ground. But, as he proved this past weekend, he’s certainly capable of it.

Bobby wants us to believe that he was considering firing assistant coach Mike Davis when he himself was fired by Indiana University in September, 2000. Two days later, Davis was named Knight’s interim replacement. In Bobby’s twisted little binary world, there are only two kinds of people – those who are unfailingly loyal to him and those who aren’t. Anyone who didn’t climb onto his IU funeral pyre to be burned up alongside him was disloyal. Mike Davis chose not to burn, instead taking the interim coaching job. Disloyal. But in the following months of diatribes and denunciations, did Bobby ever mention his plan to fire Davis? No.

Four months after being named interim coach, Davis’ team won IU’s first-ever home victory over a top-ranked opponent – something Knight never accomplished. Did Bobby divulge his intent to fire Davis? No.

The next year, Davis took to the NCAA Championship game a team that Knight himself couldn’t get past the first weekend of the tournament. Did Bobby mention that he thought Davis should have been dismissed? No.

But on a day when he should have been celebrating his new team’s unexpected victory over Gonzaga, Bobby was back to grabbing headlines for himself. He was again acting the bully in a pathetic effort to settle an old score with an imagined enemy. Following a second consecutive mediocre season and an uninspired loss in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, Davis’ Hoosiers had lost at home in the first round of the NIT. Rumors abounded that he would be fired, that he would go to the NBA, that he would take the head coaching job at Tulane. Bobby, seeing his disloyal successor under fire, couldn’t resist a swift kick.

It was vintage Bobby to seize a moment when Davis looked like an abject failure on his way out. What a perfect time to trot out this self-serving little tale of clairvoyance. Did he really consider firing Davis? Probably not. Bobby isn’t just a bully, he’s a liar too – always denying his own misbehavior, always making up stories to make himself look good. The irony, according to an IU fan I know, is that Bobby’s malicious little fiction probably saved Davis’ job for another year.

After all, the university that Bobby dominated for nearly three decades could hardly afford the appearance of being once again subjugated to his malevolent will.

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