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Bobby Knight’s World

March 13, 2003 Columns No Comments



Bobby’s World

by Nicholas Lozito

Bobby Knight lives to win.

The 62-year-old coaching legend is a true competitor, a national champion, a leader, and, above all, a world-class jerk. There is no other way to describe the coach’s actions over the past few weeks.

First, Knight suspended forwards Nick Valdez and Andre Emmett one game for missing a morning practice. Then, when Valdez quit the team four days later after refusing to run extra sprints in practice, Knight verbally bashed his good name.

“I think we have had a whole series of irresponsible things with Valdez in the past,” Knight said. “We’ve had very little with Emmett. Emmett has been an excellent student. He’s been good academically. There have been no problems whatsoever off the court with Emmett. It’s simply not the case with the other guy (Valdez).”

That’s not the only difference between the two players. Emmett averages 20.8 points. Valdez averaged 5.1. Emmett has played 744 minutes. Valdez had played 270. Emmett is described on redraiders.com as “unstoppable offensively at times in practice.” Valdez’s career had been hampered by injuries.

Should we be surprised that the all-American candidate plays on, while the bench warmer gets the boot?

Not in the world of Bobby Knight. A world where excellence is demanded from everybody. A world where stress is relieved on reporters and chairs. A world where nothing less than a national championship is tolerated, and neither is anyone who impedes on Knight’s quest for one.

Bottom line — don’t mess with Bobby’s world.

Valdez did. Look where it got him. Neil Reid did, and it got him a swift snatch of the throat in a 1997 Hoosiers practice. It’s Bobby’s world, remember? Everyone else is just a piece of the puzzle which is his own legacy, and the coach is quick to discard those who don’t fit.

Emmett does fit. The junior scored 26 points on his return to the lineup. Valdez, on the other hand, was merely another guy nursing the bench of a team which was making their tyrant coach look less of a genius every game.

According to Knight, Valdez said, “Well, I think I’m just going to leave,” after being demanded to run two extra sets of sprints during practice — one for an unauthorized switching of hotel room assignments during a road trip, another for missing several classes.

“I want to get this behind me and move on and get my degree and do something with my life,” Valdez said after leaving the practice. “I just want my teammates to succeed. It’s just unfortunate that any of this had to happen.”

But Valdez’s plea for a peaceful ending wasn’t granted.

Last week, at an advertising campaign to honor Knight’s milestones this season, which included his 800th win, confidential records regarding Valdez were distributed. According to the Associated Press, the document “details no-shows or late arrivals to practices and workouts going back to last season and lists allegations of student misconduct separate from the basketball program.”

I guess public humiliation is the price one must pay for escaping Knight’s dictatorship.

And while coaches across the nation are run out of town for petty violations, Knight’s unnecessary comments, meant only to get even with a player who never lived up to on-the-court expectations, get overlooked. In fact, the Texas Tech coach is often praised and admired for his tell-it-like-it-is attitude.

Yes, maybe Valdez did act irresponsible at times while at Texas Tech. Maybe he wasn’t the easiest player for Knight to coach. And maybe he even should have been kicked off the team before being given the chance to quit.

But at least let the kid leave Bobby’s world with his good name. Because here in the real world, Bobby, that’s all we have.

     

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