Sweetest NCAA Memories #15: Bob KnightPosted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2009
RTC asked its legion of correspondents, charlatans, sycophants, toadies and other hangers-on to send us their very favorite March Madness memory, something that had a visceral effect on who they are as a person and college basketball fan today. Not surprisingly, many of the submissions were excellent and if you’re not fired up reading them, then you need to head back over to PerezHilton for the rest of this month. We’ve chosen the sixteen best, and we’ll be counting them down over the next two weeks as we approach the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
Bob Knight: Fountain of Youth (submitted by RTC intern MP)
As a lifelong Tar Heel fan, I have plenty of moments to choose from when thinking about the NCAA tournament. My first basketball memory was watching UNC beat Michigan in 1993. I decided to apply to UNC and UNC alone after their 2005 championship. Yet, my favorite memory from March Madness has almost nothing to do with the Tar Heels, or any actual basketball. Instead, it has to do with a job I worked during the opening rounds of the 2005 tournament in Winston-Salem, NC, and the time I spent in the presence of The General.
Bob Knight’s last taste of March Madness was my first time seeing it in person. I worked behind the scenes, mostly with media in the press room. The day before games began, I was rounding a corner in the tunnel when I saw Coach Knight heading for his news conference. I was surprised by how old he looked off the court; he moved so gingerly. Then I was shocked when Knight missed a step on the way to the stage and fell to the ground. I couldn’t believe this was the same man that had thrown a chair onto the court twenty years earlier. This was the man who would eventually crack 900 wins? I took a seat in the back as Knight was helped up. And when he sat down, something changed.
Knight was suddenly in complete command again, somehow looking younger beneath the lights. He cracked jokes with sports writers about Albert Pujols. He asked a local sports writer if there was a law in the South against yankees walking the streets after dark. Best of all, Knight recounted a conversation he had with Dean Smith ten years earlier, in which he told Coach Smith, “You have to get that wins record, Dean, because Adolph Rupp was a son of a bitch, and you aren’t.” This was the man I knew of. The transformation Coach Knight underwent when cameras rolled that day is indicative of the power I believe March Madness holds on those of us who love it: it is an event that, for a few weeks each spring, makes us young again. For however long my school is still alive in March and into April, I feel like I am once more five years old. That is how powerful this thing is to me. I’m sure Bob Knight feels the same way.