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Catching up with Bob Knight

Coach talks about new book, frustrations with Tech and why he likes living in Lubbock

Posted: March 9, 2013 - 10:55pm  |  Updated: March 10, 2013 - 1:43am
Former Texas Tech coach Bob Knight signs a book during an event on Saturday at Hastings in Lubbock. (Zach Long)  Zach Long
Zach Long
Former Texas Tech coach Bob Knight signs a book during an event on Saturday at Hastings in Lubbock. (Zach Long)
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It’s been five years since Bob Knight retired from coaching basketball at Texas Tech.

He still calls Lubbock home and is arguably the city’s most famous resident.

But he’s no longer connected to the university where he coached for six-plus seasons.

It’s not, though, because his son Pat was fired as Tech’s hoops coach two years ago.

Knight is unhappy with Tech because he feels former Athletic Director Gerald Myers should have had more support from the university’s leadership toward the end of his career.

Knight sat down for his first interview with the Avalanche-Journal in a few years before a signing at the Hastings on 50th Street on Saturday for his new book, “The Power of Negative Thinking.”

Knight talked about Myers, his son, telling Tech not to hire Billy Gillispie as Pat’s replacement and much more.


On the book’s genesis: “When I was just a kid … when I’d say ‘grandma I wish,’ her standard reply was, she’d look at me and she’d say, ‘You have to understand that if wishes were horses beggars would ride.’ It took me awhile to figure that one out when I was a kid (he laughs). … I kinda remembered that all my life … that instead of hoping and wishing … to get something done, we’re going to have to work to get something done. It was certainly the way I coached. I coached on how can we lose? What can cause us to lose? You can shoot well and still lose. You can play well and still get beat by a better team. But what can cause you to lose? … Where you don’t have a chance to win? So I always worked on those things like the block out and don’t throw the ball away and shot fakes and all the little things that enabled us to eliminate ways to lose. I did that right from the beginning in coaching and that lasted until I was done coaching.”


Addressing clichés: “We just got beat and you come in the locker room … and then you say ‘Hey, Bob, the sun is going to shine brighter tomorrow.’ What the hell good is that going to do? It’s going to be a hell of a lot hotter, that’s all. We got to figure out why the hell we lost. We got to figure out how we keep from losing. Or, ‘Susie, come here and let mommy kiss that scratch on your knee.’ Well, mommy better have iodine on her tongue ‘cause that kiss isn’t going to help any. I mean the whole idea of positive thinking is the antithesis of how I think you try to be successful. And I’ve thought that forever … and so I just thought we’d have some fun with it.”


Everything’s not OK: “We’ve hidden for years and years behind this false façade of everything’s going to work out or everything’s going to be OK. We hope it does, but how are we going to get there? Hope isn’t going to do us any good. Let’s figure how what we have to change. Why did we lose this game? Well, we lost it because we had 22 turnovers and they had 7. Well, we’ve got to cut down on the turnover ratio.”


Two words: “How many times would you have been better off in certain circumstances if you’da asked why? It’d be a lot. Why should I do this? Or how many times would you have been better off if you’d said no. There’s a jillion times. Why and no to me are unbelievably important words in being successful in anything.”


Everybody’s a winner: “The one thing we’re getting into that’s a terrible mistake with kids is everybody gets something for participation. Getting something … should really mean something that you participated better than other kids have. Your kids won the championship and the guys that didn’t get a ballcap or a baseball signed by Albert Pujols. Incentive is really important in success and incentive is not really a part of positive thinking. Positive thinking is things are going to take care of themselves and it may wind up being really (expletive) the way things take care of themselves.”


Vietnam: (In response to a question about hope and government, Knight addressed the Vietnam War.)

“Have we done anything worse in your lifetime and my lifetime than subject 60,000 people who were killed to go to Vietnam? Now think about that one. What have we done worse than that? What the hell were we going to get out of Vietnam? Why isn’t someone smart enough to say it’s the north vs. the south, let them settle it and we’ll try and set up whatever kind of relationship we need with whoever wins. … I thought Kennedy and Johnson should have been impeached for Vietnam. Sixty thousand deaths for what? That’s the kind of thing in government that drives me nuts. We make some of these decisions where we should just leave things alone.”


Why he still lives in Lubbock: “We like Lubbock; we think Lubbock is a nice city. The weather is basically pretty good. We have good friends here, we like the people here, there are things we like to do, nice place to go to places from, we really enjoy living here. We like our home, we like to go to movies, lot of neat little old places to eat around Lubbock.”


What people come up and talk to him about: “Well, I don’t bring a microphone … they ask me who I think is going to win the NCAA Tournament and I always say if I knew that I’d be working for Obama. People have been really nice. People will come and thank me for what we did for basketball while I coached. That’s always nice and something I really appreciate and that’s happened a lot. We went to NCAA four times, NIT once (at Tech) … so five of six times we went to postseason.”


West Texas is familiar: “My dad’s from Oklahoma; my wife’s from Oklahoma. The first time I came to Oklahoma I was about 8 years old. The first time I came to Texas I was about 10. My mom had two first cousins that lived in Texas.”


Anything he’d change about Lubbock?: “I’d try and eliminate the wind.”


Montana: “We’ve spent a lot of time in Montana. I’ve been going to Montana since 1973. … Back when you couldn’t practice until the 15th of October; you couldn’t even be on the floor. There was nothing you could do with your team. I would go to Montana bird hunting for three or four weeks in September. I used to write letters to high school coaches in Montana to see if in their area there were any good fishing streams.”


Doing games for ESPN: “I like watching different approaches to basketball and when something goes wrong, what kind of changes are made. I’ve always enjoyed that and I have a lot of people come up and tell me they appreciate the way I explain the game. I feel good about that.”

“I love the game; it’s been a huge part of my life. I’ve been really lucky … basketball has been so good to me. I was thinking the other day how many European countries I’ve been in … every one of them was to conduct a clinic on the game of basketball.”


How long will he do TV?: “ ’Til I get tired of it. It gives me something to do. The people are great. ESPN has really good people. The producer and the people that work with him. The ones I’ve worked with have been great. If we get there the night before the game we go out to eat and go out after the game. And the whole group goes out.”


Pat at Lamar: “It’s a great situation for him. He had a great season last year. When they signed him to a contract they told him he’d have two really, really difficult years because they just didn’t have anybody. Well they turned that around a little bit with the three or four seniors they had last year and they ended up winning the league. There are three things they did that hadn’t been done in 20 years … they won the league tournament, they won 23 games and they went to the NCAAs.

“But they also told him how hard the second year is going to be and it’s been a nightmare for him in terms of wins and losses. (Lamar is 1-17 in Southland Conference play and 3-28 overall.) Their record is awful and yet he’s maintained a good, hard effort. The kids he recruited when he went there are the freshmen now and they’re just not good enough. The first year he recruited there was no reason to go to Lamar. It’s a beautiful campus … great basketball arena. With year they had last year the freshmen they have coming in will be really, really good and they’ll be good from this year on.”


Does he pick dad’s brain?: “He calls me a lot. He called me the other day and I told him I wanted to know when they were going to work out in the spring because I’m going to come down and watch them for three days and just see what I thought of his players.”


Was he upset at Pat’s dismissal from Tech?: “That’s up to Tech. Pat had some ideas about coaching that weren’t real solid when he started and I think he understood that to his credit. You got to win games. (Now) he got into a really good situation. The Houston area is one of the best areas in the entire country to recruit. So I think actually it’s a far better move than what he had here. This is a tough place to recruit here.”


Why West Texas is tough for basketball recruiting: (Knight pulls out a paper and draws Xs for Wichita Falls, Amarillo, Lubbock, Odessa, Midland, San Angelo and Abilene.)

“I recruited for six years and in those six years those seven cities produced one player.”

He told the story of going to Abilene to scout a kid and ran into former pro golfer Charles Coody, who’s from Abilene. About four minutes into the game, Knight knew the prospect would not work out and offered to buy Coody dinner.


Why Tech should have hired Ruffin McNeill when Mike Leach was fired: “I thought they made a terrible mistake when they didn’t keep Ruffin McNeill. Ruffin would have been great. The players liked Ruffin. They played hard and they played well. Ruffin was going to be a really good recruiter. I think Gerald wanted Ruffin as a coach and it didn’t work that way.”


Myers and respect: Knight said some members of Tech’s leadership were not supportive of Myers and it bothered him after all Myers had done for Texas Tech … as a player, coach and athletic director. He also felt Myers was unfairly blamed for Leach’s firing and should get more credit for the growth of Tech’s athletic facilities.

“Gerald was responsible for Leach being hired. He fought for Leach. Gerald was responsible for bringing (track coach Wes) Kittley in.”


On Billy Gillispie: “I told them under no circumstances to hire (Billy) Gillispie. They told me that they would never do that. So I just stayed away from it. He was not the right guy to hire.”


On hiring current interim men’s coach Chris Walker: “No idea. I wouldn’t know Chris Walker if he walked in the door.”


On Tech hiring Kingsbury: Knight commented on Tech’s hiring of Kliff Kingsbury as head coach with a left-handed compliment, saying, “I wondered where they had such a newfound intelligence to do something like that.”


What does he like about Kingsbury?: “I don’t even know him. But you watch A&M play and they obviously were good offensively and how he used people. I think he’ll probably do the same thing here … and I think his use of people will be very good here.


Tuberville a “terrible fit”: “I even told them that. He just didn’t fit in. I told them in the beginning I think it’s a terrible fit.”


Knight at a glance

Born: Robert Montgomery Knight was born Oct. 25, 1940, in Massilon, Ohio.

College: Knight played three seasons on Ohio State’s basketball team, including the Buckeyes’ 1960 national title team.

Coaching: Knight was head coach at Army from 1965-1971; head coach at Indiana University from 1971-2000, where his teams won three national titles; head coach at Texas Tech from 2001-2008, where he set the then-NCAA record for wins for Division I men’s basketball.

Olympics: Knight directed the U.S. national team to a gold medal at the summer games in Los Angeles.

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I'd like to impeach Boob Nite from Lubbock

This guy killed Texas Tech basketball. Got his beloved record then QUIT on this team and gave us an awful basketball coach to replace himself.

Go back to where you came from.


I disagree

Coach Knight did Tech good. He took average talent and made them great. Most Tech fans would love to see Coach Knight on the sidelines again. The building was almost always full for conference games and he was NEVER, ever out coached.

What he said in this article about the situations at Tech since he left is right on. Myers was a scapegoat in the Leach deal in my opinion and should be honored for what he did for Tech during his tenure.

Love ya coach Knight...wish you were still on the sidelines.


Truth and candor always win

Knight tells it like it is, and you know...that's what is lacking in so many people today. Being "politically correct" is such a cop out. Knight doesn't pull any punches, calls a spade a spade, and moves on. What if our politicians did the same? We'd all be better off. Celebrity can mean a lot of different things. Knight doesn't push his being well recognized EVER. His passion may be misunderstood by some, but his motives are crystal clear, and his philosophy rational. He's absolutely correct about Coach Myers too. Somebody in the Tech's Administration should be sure to name something after Myers. His dedication and legacy to Tech are unparalleled.


Not the most famous resident

As a basketball fan, one of the high points was the firing of Knight at Indiana. Unfortunately the lowest point was when Tech hired that little spoiled sport to try and buy a championship. Did it work Tech? Actyually, it got Tech recognized as the biggest laughing stock in the NCAA (Until Hance came along).

I could care less what he has written and certainly will not waste my money buying anything from him.

There are many people more famous than Bobby Knight that were Lubbock residents, Preston Smith and Buddy Holly are just two that come to mind. If anything, Knight is the most infamous resident.


Famous resident

We mean at this time he's the most famous resident living in Lubbock ... the article doesn't say in the history of the city ...



Knight lasted longer than David Smith. So, if the famous lunch encounter encouraged Smith to depart, at least, Knight did one good thing.


Coach Knight

I've always been a big fan of Coach Knight and the teams he coached. I always loved watching Indiana play when he was there. It just seemed like he got the best out of what he had. His teams were always fundamentally strong and played good defense. I remember going to see Tech play at SMU his first year at Tech. I was amazed at the amount of abuse he took from SMU fans trying to get him to lose his temper. I was even more amazed how well he handled it. He'll go down as one of the greatest coaches of all time.



Knight was good for Tech basketball, his teams played hard and they went to class, and graduated. He was strict and spoke his mind, which was the truth whether you liked it or not. I like that about him and wish more people spoke the truth. Meyers was good for Tech and deserved to be recognized for what he did while at Tech. Hance given a chapel and Gerald doesn't get anything for all of his time and what he did for Tech athletically.


3234 & feaco

You 2 are absolutely nuts. How can you even think about it not helping tech out. This hire gave the bball program unparalleled exposure on a national level that it had never experienced until then-and since then. Exactly how did kill the program? Last time I checked he was the all time wins leader in basketball while coaching @ texas tech. Its not like tech has some type of long history of national championships in any sport (1).

And feaco "famous residents" ... Maybe you need to revisit the article or your history books. As much as you hate to admit it, at this time there is no question Bob Knight is by far the most famous resident in Lubbock 50 years.



You act like hance hired Knight. He had nothing to do with it so you do not have to defend him like you usually do. The things Knight did on and off the court disgust me and he has no honor whatsoever.

By the way, I would rank Preston Smith a whole lot higher than Knight. At least he never threw chairs at his players.


I could are less who hired

I could are less who hired knight or how it went down. The bottom line is he was hired, he was the head coach and he did bring national attention to Texas tech basketball....more than it has ever seen in its entire history.

It figures you would fall in love with Preston smith on a sports blog....just like you did bringing your boy hance into every blog you post...whatever man



I certainly am not in love with Preston Smith. I was just pointing out that there are many people in Lubbock who could be considered more famous than a has been basketball coach who abused his players (and the chancellor of the university where he worked).

As you know, Hance is certainly not my boy, but you spend a lot of time defending him and his actions which are killing Tech.


GM & Bob

Coach Knight did a tremendous job of bring recognition to TTU. Remember the golf tournament fund raiser he helped develope. He brought a ton of nationally recognized people to the Rawls. Gerald has thw indoor soccer facility named after him in case you didn't know. Keep it up Coach Knight, I love your candor.



Bob certainly says what is on his mind. I totally agree with him about Vietnam, Johnson and Nixon were controlled by the military industrial complex to make a lot of money off of it, while we as Vets suffered and continue sufferring to this very day for all that greed, much like W and Iraq,and lets not forget Agent Orange from Vietnam,or stretching the military almost to the breaking point by W and Chaney and putting our military and their familys through hell with multiple tours. dont agree with him about Myers and Leach, read the book, Knight , Myers was the Athletic Director not the BOR, or Hance, ,understand your loyalty towards Myers, but Myers and Bailey did not stand up to Hance and the BOR and will always be associated with the firing of Leach, just like you quitting in mid season, Knight. agree with you about BCG, and Tubbs, bad hires, and not hiring Ruff. but you know who butters your bread out at Tech, and you have to play the game, perhaps to get a statue or something named after you.,other than that you had a great legacy,. everyone is remebered not only for the good things we do but also the bad.



Reading these posts and the ones about the Curry's. To see some who bash certain coaches who brought national attention to Tech, yet praise others who did the same. And see others who are hammering a coach who currently has a losing conference record, yet 5 or 6 months ago were steadfastly defending a coach who had a losing conference record and was lying on camera. Cant wait till football season.


Did anyone else notice there's no mention

of Krusty. He's got opinions on everything except basketball. Doesn't know who Walker is if he walked in the door? Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Anyone can run their mouth with HINDSIGHT. I was WRONG about Tubs, but at least I'm not sitting here lying about how I knew he'd run out on the tab. Never heard a word from Knight at the time, but now that they've disgraced themselves and gotten fired HE KNEW IT all along. Yeah, and Pat's a good recruiter. Equine excrement!

And what's this big orange pile of steaming male bovine fecal matter? VIETNAM, hypocrite Bob, Vietnam?? You (expletive) HYPOCRITE !! JFK was murdered by the military industrial complex, not in bed with it. He was going to tell the people the truth about the mic, the bankers/globalists, and EBE's. You were the HEAD COACH at ARMY from 1965-1971. How many pre- and post-game interviews did you give denouncing the Vietnam War, Kent State, or Richard Nixon??? NIXON, who you didn't mention! Or the fact that the very first "military advisors" were there with the French during the Eisenhower administration in the late '50s.

And as for Myers, he signed his name to destroying both the men's & women's basketball teams with the hires of PK and KC, along with being involved in the Spencer/Leach debacles. You don't get to sign your name and smile at the press conference, and then plead the innocent stooge. He's a nice guy, be his friend, but being a good person doesn't qualify for giving a 5-yr extension to 29-51.


@ funny coyote - you make vague/veiled comments

but don't say anything. Why don't you be a man, and take a stand for something, rather than saying nothing. Own it.

Football will be boring on this thread. We're all behind Kliff, so all you can do is talk to your imaginary hancer friend.


Once again, you're wrong, as usual, and ...

... still didn't say anything. I was on the opposite side, telling those who said we shouldn't mix them to not read if they didn't like it. Only thing I ever said about not posting was for you to give the 'hancer' bit a rest, which I see you're still obsessed with.

As usual, you don't pay attention to the article, or reference it, and aren't man enough to state an opinion and stand beside it. Being intellectually deficient, you are forced to lie, call names, make up childish insinuations, and say absolutely nothing.

I inferred from your vague comments that you were still the same immature and dishonest little person you'd always been, but I thought I'd give you the opportunity to prove it. And a creepy little thing you are, you seem to know a lot about me. I get my Sudoku puzzles out of the AJ though, not the $ store.

I'd like to introduce you to RedRaider2007. You two are a perfect match for one another. The world can spend countless hours trying to determine which of you is the man in the relationship.

I wouldn't pick a fight with ye of mighty falsities. You'd just run crying 'mommy' to the AJ and the LPD, as you've said in the past.


People dont get it

Anyone who thinks Knight helped the TT basketball program lives in a fantasy world. Even the national press observed how he drove our program into the ground when it was once very competitive program. Knights abusive personality, his focus on himself, not to mention taking emphasis away from players helped drive our program into the abyss. College program are thought of as stepping stones today. By taking the names off the back of the jersey's he effectively prevented any nationally recognized player from wanting to come to Tech if it even crossed their mind. Nobody likes a bully and that is all he has ever been. And he has been allowed to get away with it for years..... Good riddance, move away from Lubbock Bobby Knight!!!!

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