Former IU Players Take A Shot At Assessing Bob Knight’s Legacy
With the iconic former coach set to make a couple of Indiana appearances in late March, standouts spanning three decades of Knight’s tenure in Bloomington wrestle with his complicated persona.
Photo by Darryl Smith
Nearly two decades after IU fired Bob Knight and two years since his departure from ESPN, Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim (a Bloomington native and noted Hoosier basketball fan) took a long look at The General’s legacy in an essay for IM. With Knight set to speak at Bloomington High School North on March 30 and at the Palladium in Carmel on March 31, we gave a few former players a chance to weigh in as well.
Ted Kitchel (1978–83)
“I don’t expect him to come back to IU, and I’m sure he probably never will. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. He’s a stand-firm guy, and obviously he believes he was done wrong, given what he did for the university. Even though all the administration there now were not there when IU got rid of him, I still think he is very bitter about the situation. It’s disappointing, and I know it is for [Randy] Wittman and Isiah [Thomas], guys I’m pretty close to.”
Joe Hillman (1984–89)
“It’s no different than the media going after people they want to smear, like Donald Trump, who won’t give them the time of day. Knight isn’t going to go out of his way for the media. The media ripped him, and that’s probably the thing that bothers him the most, is the liberal media trashed him and therefore never wanted to talk about any of his coaching abilities. They wanted to talk about his so-called antics.”
Sherron Wilkerson (1993–96)
“Sometimes we get caught up in the image of a person instead of the actual person. A lot of people are in philanthropy to get pats on the back. Throughout Coach’s legacy, he was philanthropic in the sense that he surpassed the university and helped people who weren’t even connected to IU or basketball in any way. It’s frustrating that things he did from that standpoint don’t get pointed out as much as the negative.”
Lawrence Funderburke (1989–90)
“No one ever got as much out of a player as Coach Knight. He sometimes wanted it more than the players themselves. He had very high expectations, and if people didn’t meet them, they would suffer the consequences. It was scary, because he was the first coach I ever played for who wanted to win more than me. When you have a guy who’s a genius, a lot of people don’t understand him. Not to excuse anything he’s done, but he thinks differently and he sees differently.”