Imagine if Dean Smith had just surpassed Bobby Knight to become the winningest NCAA Division I men’s basketball coach? Do you think Knight would have been as gracious and gentlemanly about it as Smith was when Knight got his 880th win yesterday?
I was watching ESPN a lot in the past week, and no matter what game was on, the commentators couldn’t stop talking about Knight. I just loved that they all praised him for doing things “his way,” which is a euphemism for the rules don’t apply to him because he wins. I don’t remember anybody praising Mike Tyson for boxing “his way.”
I know, Knight has his good points. He is truly a great coach, doesn’t cheat, and his players graduate. But lots of excellent coaches win and run clean programs while still managing to act like civilized human beings. It’s disheartening to see how widely his behavior is excused because he wins. No losing coach would be allowed to get away with the bullying that Knight gets away with.
And by the way, Dean Smith got to 879 wins in 36 years. It took Knight 41. Had Smith coached for five more years, he’d most likely have another 100 wins, as he holds the NCAA record for most seasons with at least 25 wins (22) and had at least 20 wins for 30 of his last 31 seasons.
Can you tell I’m a Carolina grad?