Q&A: Bob Hammel, Co-Author with Bob Knight

Inside the new book, The Power of Negative Thinking.

IM: How did this book come to be? What were its roots?

BH: This is the first book I’ve written where the title came first. And, at the beginning, it was kind of a joke. But when we got to fiddling with it and actually got serious, we realized that there was something basic and true about it.

IM: How so?

BH: This was exactly the way Bob coached. One of the first things he did was he got rid of the negatives. It was very conscious on his part, kind of a look-before-you-leap thing. Then the whole premise of the book stopped being a joke. We found it was advisable to look at something in its most negative light so you could see some of the things that could go wrong.

IM: And, in the process, you got to have a little fun with Bob Knight’s reputation. What is it about him that intrigue’s people?

BH: I don’t think people have ever fully understood Bob. But the reputation he got was, by and large, not false. He was certainly a demanding coach, but, by far, the majority of his players responded well to that and played basketball that was beautiful to watch. I don’t think it’s an accident that nobody’s matched what they did in 1975-1976 [undefeated] season. No one’s come close.

IM: Do you see any coaches today who remind you of Knight?

BH: The more I see of [Butler coach] Brad Stevens, the more I see their approaches are the same. He’s a terrific young coach. I’m impressed with what Brad has done with tough circumstances.

IM: What’s Bob Knight like as a writing partner?

BH: Bob’s an extraordinary editor. I’ve seen a lot of as-told-to books thrown together by people who don’t really know the guy; Charles Barkley once said he was misquoted in his own autobiography. That would never happen with Bob Knight. He considered every word. He wanted to make it sound like him. He had the last word on everything. In the end, I thought, hey, it’s his book—he should.


Book image courtesy Amazon Publishing

An abbreviated version of this article appeared in the March 2013 issue.