I am Bob Bridge. I have written about college sports for four decades.
I am imperfect. A preponderance of evidence to confirm this reality is readily available upon request.
Bob Knight is a basketball coach. He taught hoops — and life skills — at Indiana University in Bloomington for 30 years.
He, too, is imperfect.
Bob returned to Assembly Hall Saturday to reunite with former players and fans. It was quite the festive occasion.
Bob is headstrong, sometimes belligerent when agitated. Upon dismissal by the university, he vowed never to return.
That was a concept hard to accept for those astutely aware what IU means to Bob. Hence, we yearned for his return.
One of my college roommates played for IU for two seasons before shifting to another university. Playing behind Quinn Buckner and Bobby Wilkerson did not present a viable opportunity for him, so an amiable agreement was arranged. He transferred to another program and continues to harbor respect and admiration for his former coach.
I understand why Coach Knight has developed detractors. The force and power of Bob’s personality can be intimidating to those unfamiliar with him. They consider him a full-fledged menace.
They are wrong.
Bob has been benevolent beyond measure.
Through the years I’ve learned of extraordinary episodes of kindness afforded anonymously by this man. Most often the reliable sources relaying these sentimental stories would begin with ... “now this is completely off the record, but ...”
While he was in Bloomington I hardly viewed Assembly Hall as a “temple of tyranny.” The vaunted venue was more of a sanctuary for basketball betterment.
In a world wandered aimlessly by multitudes of impressionable sheep, Bob ranks as one of the more starkly independent individuals I’ve encountered. He is exceptionally bright. Only the fearless — or the foolish — wander into a war of words with his guy.
Uniquely unencumbered by other people’s expectations, he adhered steadfastly to a strategy that was remarkably methodical and exacting. Bob taught basketball as he believed it should be played. In doing so, the Hoosiers won three national championships.
He also steered multitudes of young men along prudent paths to a more meaningful existence. Many of them were in attendance Saturday to greet him upon his return.
The players weren't the only ones to benefit from his teaching. Others, on the periphery of his legendary program, were inspired to strive for excellence in their chosen fields of endeavor. They, too, admire and appreciate him.
I do not wish to serve as an arbiter for Bob Knight’s life. I just count myself among the privileged to have inhabited his orbit for such an extended time. His pursuit of excellence and attention to detail prodded me to be a better person.
I've viewed harsh and hurtful words regarding Bob via social media in recent days. Though I am certain the typists were sincere in pecking these scathing remarks, I doubt they are fully aware of the measure of the man.
Yes, Bob Knight is imperfect.
But, aren’t we all?
I wish him nothing but the best.
Columnist Bob Bridge welcomes comments at 812-276-9646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.