Players, colleagues remember Knight as innovator, champion

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Former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight won his way, demanding perfection with a fiery approach that was as controversial as it was successful. He ushered in the era of the motion offense and used a stingy, havoc-creating defense to turn Indiana’s struggling program into a perennial national championship contender. Some comments on his legacy:

“This is a terribly sad day for the IU basketball family, Indiana University, the state of Indiana and the world of sports as we say goodbye to Coach Knight. One of the things that he said to our 1976 team, which I was fortunate enough to be a part of, was that you may never see another team like this again. Well, I don’t know that we will ever see another coach like him again. I think it’s important for people to realize that. It was a special opportunity to have been coached by him, and an equally special opportunity to have him as a friend. Because as great a coach as he was, he was an infinitely better friend. He’s a big part of who we are, and we were very fortunate to have had him in our lives.” — Quinn Buckner, former Hoosiers star under Knight and current Indiana University President of the Board of Trustees.

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“We lost one of the greatest coaches in the history of basketball today. Clearly, he was one of a kind, Coach Knight recruited me, mentored me, and had a profound impact on my career and in my life. This is a tremendous loss for our sport and our family is deeply saddened by his passing.” — Mike Krzyzewski, the former Duke coach who played for Knight at Army.

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“I think Coach Knight may have influenced the game more defensively than offensively, the way he stressed our pressure defense and then I guess how it would change the game. It (the motion offense) is not as predictable because you’re reading opportunities.” — Tom Abernethy, a starter on Knight’s 1975-76 undefeated national championship team.

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“Lots of teammate tears flowing tonight for our coach.” — Isiah Thomas.

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“Coach Knight ... will forever be remembered as one of the top coaches in not only Texas Tech history but all of college basketball. He truly changed the game with not only his motion offense but his insistence that his teams be defined by their defense. His impact was felt off the court, too, as he was a profound supporter of student-athletes receiving a quality education, which was evident by his teams annually producing a near-perfect graduation rate. Coach Knight’s impact on our basketball program will forever be cherished as one of the greatest tenures in our history. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Knight family during this difficult time.” — Texas Tech in a statement.

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“We wanted everything done a certain way and I knew when we played Indiana you better be prepared to execute and rebound and get back on defense.” — former Purdue coach Gene Keady about Knight, his rival and friend.

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“It is a profoundly sad day for all of us who loved Coach Knight. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Karen, his family, and to all those who loved him. I am so blessed that he saw something in me as a basketball player. He influenced my life in ways I could never repay. As he did with all of his players, he always challenged me to get the most out of myself as a player and more importantly, as a person. His record as a basketball coach speaks for itself. He will be remembered as one of the greatest ever and his impact on the game of basketball is etched in stone. His teams were always prepared and with him on the sideline, you always believed that he put you in the best position to win. I will always cherish the time we spent together after I played for him. His fierce loyalty to his former players never wavered. I am grateful that he was able to come to our practices after I came back. His presence meant so much to me, our staff, and our players.” — Mike Woodson, former Indiana player and current Hoosiers coach.

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“George (McGinnis) and I, I remember we were watching TV and West Point was playing and Coach Knight was animated and doing what he does and I told George, ‘Wherever we go, we don’t want to play for anybody like that.’” — Steve Downing, who played on Knight’s first two teams at Indiana and became a lifelong friend. McGinnis, a teammate for a state title-winning team at Washington High in Indianapolis, never played for Knight.

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“Coach Robert Montgomery Knight was a towering basketball figure and fighter, second to none. As a national champion he became synonymous with our state and what Hoosiers are all about: hard work, practice makes perfect, teamwork and a commitment to excellence. His teams were built around student-athletes and his influence prepared them for life after the ball stopped bouncing. There will never be another Coach Knight and the banners that hang in Assembly Hall will forever remind us of his time, impact and dominance. When Indiana builds our Mount Rushmore of Basketball, The General will surely be on it.” — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb

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“As we collectively mourn the passing of coach Knight, we also celebrate a man who will always be an integral part of Indiana University’s rich and vibrant story. With unmatched accomplishment, Coach Knight’s brilliance ensures he will forever rest among the giants of college basketball.” — Indiana University President Pamela Whitten.

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“Coach (Dean) Smith was certainly my mentor, but the next guy for me was Bob Knight. I played golf with him, watched baseball with him, watched his practices my first year as a head coach, but more importantly I appreciated the help he gave me in my coaching career. He acted like I was one of his guys and made me so much better. He was one of my heroes and I will be forever grateful to him.” — former North Carolina and Kansas coach Roy Williams.

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“He was a guy I idolized when I got here (in 1983) because Bobby Knight was the man. He and (former Michigan State coach) Jud Heathcote had a great relationship. He treated me great, and he helped me. I wish people knew what a great heart that he had. He was a different dude, but if you needed some help, he would answer the bell. I feel for him and his family. The game has lost an icon.” – Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.

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“We had respect for each other. He was obviously one of the greatest coaches of all time and a dominate man in our sport. He was tough on his players, some would call it tough love I didn’t play for Bob, I watched him coached. I was amazed by an incredible tactician. My memories of Bob was he was a great coach, really cared about people, was a guy who you may have heard other things about, but his players did love him.” — former Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun.

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“He’s the best coach there is ... If I had to lose, I would only want to lose to him.” — former Indiana standout Steve Alford, who played for Knight and later coached at Iowa, after a 2003 Hawkeyes loss to Knight’s Texas Tech team.

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“Bob Knight’s impact on college basketball has been felt for more than six decades, beginning with being a member of the 1960 national championship team at Ohio State and continuing as one of the most successful coaches in the history of the sport. That included more than 100 wins at Army and Texas Tech, sandwiched around more than 600 wins and three national championships at Indiana. Coach Knight will be remembered as a leader whose players had unyielding loyalty to him long after their playing careers concluded. The NCAA sends its condolences to those players, as well as the family and friends of one of the game’s legendary coaches.” — Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball