Bobby Knight Rumors

For all his madness and kaleidoscopically inventive profanity, Knight is one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. The hallmarks of his style—the motion offense, man-to-man defense, focus on the fundamentals, devotion to discipline—have spread throughout basketball for the past five decades at every level. It’s impossible to imagine the sport without him. And there may be no more devoted acolyte to Knight, his style of basketball, his view of the world—all the good things, without the chair-throwing—than Mike Woodson. “I had dinner with him just this last week in New York,” Woodson told me in his office after a recent practice. “We sat and chatted for about three hours. We talked basketball. What better advice to take? He’s done everything you could possibly do in basketball, and done it as good as anybody who has ever coached the game. How do you not respect Bob Knight?”
Woodson has more than just respect for Knight. He says he owes his whole life to him. (He showed me a picture of himself with Knight, though the most prominent photo in his office is golf-related.) Woodson was born in Indianapolis; his father died when he was 13, and his mother was a nurse. In Indiana, basketball is essentially a religion practiced from birth. Woodson has joked that he was raised by the motion offense. He was heavily recruited at Broad Ripple high school, the same school that David Letterman had attended a few years earlier. (“I’d love to meet him now that we’re in the same town again,” Woodson says.) In 1976, Woodson agreed to play basketball for Knight at Indiana University. Knight promised Woodson three things: a quality education, a first-rate basketball team, and a summer job. “All three came true,” Woodson says. “I worked every summer, I got better as a basketball player, and I got a degree. You follow people like that.”