On Your Marc: 5/10/16

Knight for Trump? Of course

By Marc Katz

I see where Bobby Knight has come out for Donald Trump in the coming elections.

Sure, I’ve got a Bobby Knight story or two to tell.

During the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. I was in and out of the Ohio State basketball beat, probably covering 40 or so events—most of them games—between the Buckeyes and Indiana Hoosiers.

Knight was a tough guy to cover, and I began to dislike the guy, not so much because he was so good and usually beat OSU, but because he never gave guys like me a chance to be bad.

I mean, I’ve asked a few stupid questions in my life, and every time I heard one hurled at Knight, you could expect it to be batted right back as if the questioner were the dumbest person on Earth.

He sometimes was correct, but I think I did stump him once.

It was at the old (and physically beautiful for the fans) St. John Arena. Indiana trailed by two with time running out, opted for a three-point shot to win, and missed.

At St. John, the locker rooms were at opposite ends of the court, with a media room next to the OSU locker area. All coaches were directed there for brief post-game comments before locker rooms were opened, and all complied, except, in the Big Ten, Knight.

A journalist’s choice was to go to the OSU or IU side. Hearing both coaches was nearly impossible and going to Indiana’s side, win or lose, was always more exciting when Knight was talking.

On the night in question, since OSU won, I went to the Buckeye side and was surprised when finished there to learn Knight was still addressing the media at his end of the court.

I went in just as he was finishing, and he said, “I’ll take one more good question.”

With that, he abruptly turned to walk away, but I had already raised my hand and uttered an audible, “Uh…”

Knight froze, and so did I and 30 other journalists. Of course I knew my question had been asked, and early on, but I had not been there to hear it. I wanted to know if Knight was going for the win regardless, not wanting to try for a two-point shot tie and overtime.

He slowly turned and saw me. A pal told me it was a good thing I came in late, because Knight takes attendance. If he knew I was in the room when the question was initially asked, he would have screamed until my ears fell off.

The thing was, it was getting late and I really didn’t have time to ask one of the other journalists what he said, so I just asked myself.

“Would you have gone for a two if it was available?” I asked, or something like that.

He paused. He knew I hadn’t been there when the question was first asked, and he knew it was the central question to how the game ended.

He chose to make me look as bad as he could.

“Well, you see,” Knight began, “If we had gone for two points, it would have only tied the game and we would have had to go to overtime. If we hit the three, we would have won.”

Then he left the room.

I wish I had been able to know him a little better when we were both really working, but, you know, things happen. He was always on good terms with my boss, Si Burick, and remains great friends with Don Donoher, who used to coach a little basketball in these parts.

One encounter that still resonates in this house involving Knight came when the Dayton Daily News was assembling a special section honoring Burick’s many years of service.

I was to collect as many quotes as I could, which was easy, since just about everybody knew and liked Burick.

I heard from Scotty Reston (the late New York Times columnist) and Howard Cosell and all the usual athletes.

I figured it was a lock to get Knight, but repeated calls to his office were always met by polite message requests.

Finally, my copy was due, I had to send it in and I was going out of town.

I waited until almost midnight, kissed my wife and three-year-old daughter Rachel and was off.

By the time I hit the city limits, I was told, the phone rang and Rachel answered.

“Mom, it’s Bob Knight, Indiana,” Rachel said to a woman who insists Knight still remembers the night a sports writer allowed his three-year-old to stay up past midnight.

Julie took the phone and said Knight asked if it was too late to add his comments to the Burick special.

“No,” Julie said. “I’ll take them down and send them in.”

“Good,” Knight said. “At least there won’t be a sports writer to screw them up.”

Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at katzcopsnsports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@daytoncitypaper.com.

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Marc Katz
Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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