Bill Benner right: Bob Knight's a jerk

Dateline: Sat 01 Dec 2007

Bob Knight is now 67 years old. He is still making news for being a jerk, and the latest incident is almost unbelievable: While hunting doves in Texas last month -- now there is a manly sport -- he was accused of firing shotgun pellets into a residential yard, arguing with the homeowner and then spraying the guy with more pellets in the back and neck.

Lubbock, Texas, police may have cleared Knight, but the news media has not been so generous. The story got good play.

I used to make a living defending Bob Knight. While I knew full well he'd done some incredibly nutty/borderline things -- go off on Indianapolis Monthly magazine editor Deb Paul during an interview, fire blank shots at a Louisville reporter, throw chairs, choke a player -- I also believed he would be "OK" if he got the respect he deserved.

Texas, I rationalized, was the perfect state for him: lots of pork chops and barbecue, lots of "yes ma'am" and "yessir, Coach, sir," plenty of room to roam the countryside. Then, when I read not too awfully long ago that he had mellowed in this new stage of his life -- he dotes on his grandson -- I thought all was well in Knight's head.

No more. As News reporter Art Harris used to say, "the leopard cannot change his spots."

Bill Benner was at one time the Star sports columnist who covered Knight like an IU blanket. After I'd written one of my "poor Knight" columns, Benner would occasionally wander over to my desk, look at me politely but with a certain befuddlement, and say, "You don't understand. You've never seen him in action."

OK, Bill, you were right.

Some people have suggested that in this latest incident, Knight was set up. But listen to the tape: the coach, in his confrontation with a man who accuses him of shooting pellets his way, sounds belligerent, feisty and testy. How many times can we stand by our man?

No more.


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