Bob Knight Returns to Indiana University’s Assembly Hall For the First Time Since 2000

A triumphant return for the man nicknamed "The General"

Purdue v Indiana
Former Indiana Hoosiers head coach Bob Knight and former Indiana Hoosiers player Isaiah Thomas on the court at half time during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Assembly Hall on February 08, 2020 in Bloomington, Indiana.
Justin Casterline/Getty Images
By Tobias Carroll / February 9, 2020 6:15 am

Few college basketball coaches have the storied careers of Bob Knight; few, too, are as larger than life as the onetime Indiana University coach. An ESPN report on Knight’s career lays out the impressive statistics: “three national championships, 11 Big Ten titles and more than 600 wins in his 29 seasons in Bloomington.” But that career ended on a sour note, with Knight fired after grabbing a player’s arm after a zero-tolerance policy had been enacted by the university.

Since then, Knight has remained furious with those responsible for his firing. And last year, it was reported that Knight was in poor health. All of which led to a decidedly unexpected sight at Indiana University last night: Bob Knight’s return to Assembly Hall for the first time since his 2000 firing.

The occasion, as Liz Roscher at Yahoo Sports reports, was a halftime ceremony honoring the 1979-1980 Hoosiers team coached by Knight. And it was an emotional moment, with the crowd rising to its feet as Knight entered; later, Knight led the crowd in a “DEFENSE” chant.

A 2017 article by Jon Wertheim explored Knight’s complex legacy as both a coach and a human, which included its share of both triumphs and frustrations. “With Knight, the ironies and contradictions always wreathed around each other,” Wertheim wrote. “The same man who demanded discipline from his players, showing so little impulse control himself.” Perhaps the paradoxes that characterized so much of Knight’s life are giving way to a spirit of reconciliation.

Bob Knight returning to Indiana University isn’t something many people would have expected to see, but that unexpected quality has added one more twist to an already complex story.

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