Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight returned to Indiana’s Assembly Hall on Saturday and attended a game for the first time since he was fired in 2000.
Knight’s 1979-1980 team was honored at halftime during Saturday’s game against the Purdue Boilermakers. That team went 21-8, won the Big Ten championship, and hit No. 1 in the AP poll before being eliminated in the Sweet Sixteen. Former Purdue coach Gene Keady also attended the game.
It was an emotional scene at halftime when Knight entered the arena for the first time in nearly 20 years. The home crowd chanted “BOBBY, BOBBY” as he walked onto the court, which was full of his former players. He waved at the fans and then embraced several of his old players as they all crushed in for a hug.
The General Returns.— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 8, 2020
Bob Knight took the floor at Assembly Hall with his former players to a standing ovation: pic.twitter.com/ipq47fqbCu
Knight got more fired up as the crowd cheered, but when they started chanting “THANK YOU COACH,” Knight appeared to be near tears. Then, in true Bobby Knight fashion, he led the crowd in a “DEFENSE” chant.
Bob Knight leading the IU crowd in chants of "DEFENSE!" because of course. So cool. pic.twitter.com/k2hFmmiWol— Kyle Boone (@Kyle__Boone) February 8, 2020
The reason for Knight’s long absence from Indiana is due to how he departed. After leading the Hoosiers to 11 Big Ten titles, five trips to the Final Four, and three national titles over 29 years, he was fired in 2000 for violating a zero-tolerance policy regarding abusive behavior toward students. Knight was absolutely livid at the administration and hasn’t been back since. As recently as three years ago he was still harboring angry and hurt feelings about how his time at Indiana ended.
Calling those feelings “angry” and “hurt” might be an understatement. Knight appeared on Dan Patrick’s show in 2017 and said that while the fans at Indiana were incredible, he was not interested in ever returning to the university. He also said that he had no respect for anyone in the administration that fired him, adding “I hope they’re all dead.”
Since then, Knight appears to have softened a little. He moved back to Bloomington last July and has been seen around town. He participated in the video honoring the 1979-1980 team. He was heavily courted by Isiah Thomas and Randy Wittman, two players on that team, to return to Indiana for this occasion.
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