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Bobby Knight passes away at 83

A legend of the college game
Bobby Knight photo from Flickr
Bobby Knight photo from Flickr

Last week, legendary college basketball coach Bobby Knight died at 83. He was a three-time national champion and had an undefeated season that remains yet to be replicated. Knight had been ill for several years and had been hospitalized earlier this year.

Knight began his coaching career at Army in 1965 where he led them to three National Invitation Tournament (NIT) semifinal appearances. However, his coaching legacy began when he took over the Indiana Hoosiers in 1971. In his 29 year tenure with the program, the Hoosiers won 662 games and four national championships.

The 1975-1976 season was Knight’s best as a head coach as the Hoosiers won every single regular season and NCAA Tournament game, resulting in the only undefeated season in NCAA Division I history. Their 86-68 victory over Michigan in the National Championship Game proved how dominant they were compared to their competitors.

Several players Knight coached went on to be successful in the NBA such as guards Mike Woodson and Isaiah Thomas. Woodson is currently the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers where he cites Knight as an inspiration.

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After being involved in a number of controversies during his time at Indiana, Knight was eventually forced out for grabbing a freshman college student by the arm after the student referred to Knight by his last name. This was a violation of the zero-tolerance policy the school had in place which ultimately led to his firing.

After his dismissal from Indiana, Knight became the head coach of Texas Tech. Knight improved the program immediately by leading the Red Raiders to three NCAA tournament appearances in his first four years. In the 2006-2007 season, Knight’s final full season with the Red Raiders, the team finished with a 21-13 record which granted them another tournament appearance. Knight retired midway through the 2007-2008 season to get his son experience with the coaching staff.

Despite his ugly exit from Indiana, Knight returned many years later in February 2020 at halftime of an Indiana vs Purdue game, where Knight was greeted to a thunderous applause. Many of his former players and a sellout crowd of Hoosier fans were in attendance. Many did not think Knight would return to Indiana after his firing.

Knight’s contribution to the game of basketball will be remembered by many. His innovator of the motion offense was something that became revolutionary as it emphasized screens and finding open jump shots or layups. He was also known to emphasize man-to-man defense as it allowed defenders to contest every pass or shot instead of relying on a system.

Bobby Knight will always be remembered as a pioneer of basketball. His 902-371 record, his outbursts, and his inventive coaching schemes will be something people never forget.

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