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Original Issue


Knight Errant

The stench remains from Bob Knight's inexcusable behavior last week. Late in a Dec. 7 game against Notre Dame in Bloomington, with his Hoosiers leading by 28 points, Knight became incensed when his son Pat threw a sloppy pass that was intercepted and converted into an Irish basket. In the ensuing timeout Bob grabbed Pat, shoved him into a chair and let go a kick that seemed to be aimed at his son's shin. When fans behind the Indiana bench booed, the coach turned and directed an expletive in their direction. Finally, after the athletic department suspended him for one game (against Tennessee Tech last Friday), Knight wrote an arrogant "apology" that was read, in his absence, to the Assembly Hall crowd. Among other things, Knight wrote, "Given the opportunity to observe each of you, I probably wouldn't agree with all that any of you said or did either."

Knight just doesn't get it. He doesn't realize that as a coach he must be held to a higher standard of conduct than the average person, at least when he's on the bench representing the university. And he doesn't realize how much his actions hurt the people who care about him, some of whom worry that he's destined for a Woody Hayes-like flameout.

A line has finally been drawn in the sand—last week's suspension was the first ever meted out to Knight by IU—but now Indiana AD Clarence Doninger should be even tougher on future incidents. Knight's next offense should result in a month's suspension, and a third should bring an indefinite suspension and mandatory university-supervised counseling.

Any way you cut it, Knight is guilty of a form of abuse that's intolerable, and if he can't mend his ways, he should retire or be fired. Even his defenders realize he's not the only coach who can win big at Indiana.

Not Very Offensive

When the Blue Jays beat the Phillies 15-14 in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series, more than one observer called it a football score. Not so, al least not in the NFL. Any number of pro football teams would kill for that much offense.

On five occasions last weekend NFL games failed to produce as many points as the Blue Jays and Phillies did runs in that Game 4. They were: Patriots 7, Bengals 2; Jets 3, Redskins 0; Buccaneers 13, Bears 10; Bills 10, Eagles 7; Giants 20, Colts 6.

At last glance, however, the NFL was still outscoring soccer by a fairly safe margin.

Tarnished Gold

By breaking from his managers last week in an abrupt and muddled bid to seize "full control" of his career, Oscar De La Hoya—the only U.S. boxer to win a gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics and the sport's rising Golden Boy—has raised questions about both his judgment and his sense of loyalty. The 20-year-old De La Hoya, 11-0 as a pro and zeroing in on his first world title, was set to make his New York City debut last Thursday in a 10-round junior lightweight bout against Jesús Vidal Concepción, but he canceled, citing "mental exhaustion." He then fired his managers, Robert Mittleman and Steve Nelson, and charged them with breach of contract. The announcement put on hold a 10-fight deal with HBO (worth as much as $13 million) that was to have been finalized on Dec. 10, as well as a reported endorsement contract with McDonald's and a movie deal for De La Hoya's life story.

After refusing to speak to reporters all week, De La Hoya called a press conference last Friday and showed up with a cast on his left hand. He said that a ligament injury was the real reason he had pulled out of Thursday's fight. Backed by his new lawyer, Michael Norris—who admits he had not even met the fighter before the previous Saturday—De La Hoya dismissed speculation that someone else was behind the firing of Mittleman and Nelson and laughed off reports that he had received a suitcase filled with $1.5 million from two mystery men.

Though De La Hoya insists that he now intends to manage himself, he also says he will be advised by his father, Joel, by a cousin, Gerardo Salas, and by L.A.-based advertising consultant Raynaldo Garza. Nelson and Mittleman have filed a $10 million interference-with-contract suit against Garza and Salas.

In all likelihood the Oscar express will roll on because boxing clearly needs bankable heroes. The cast will disappear from De La Hoya's hand, Mittleman and Nelson will get a settlement, HBO will sign its new star, and next spring De La Hoya will fight for a title. Whether the Golden Boy image will survive is another question.

Uncommon Scents

Philadelphia entrepreneur Pete Klamka has created a line of 14 colognes, each designed to evoke a famous college sports program. The Florida State scent, for example, is "rugged, athletic, spicy," while the Alabama scent, according to Klamka, is "Southern and spicy." A Michigan grad, Klamka claims that the Wolverine fragrance "smells like 175 years of academic and athletic excellence."

Nevada-Las Vegas is among Klamka's choices too, which leads us to wonder: What does a few years of NCAA probation smell like?

Hopeful Precedents

The golf world, which recently lost Heather Farr to cancer (SI, Nov. 29), was further shaken last week by the news that Paul Azinger (below) has malignant lymphoma in his right shoulder. The timing seemed particularly cruel considering that 1993, which included a victory at the PGA Championship, was the finest year of Azinger's career.

Fortunately the prognosis for Azinger's recovery is good. The malignancy is in a small portion of bone rather than in the soft tissue that lymphoma normally attacks. The cure rate for lymphoma in bone is about 90%.

Even if Azinger, 33, completely regains his health, there is no guarantee he will be as great a player when he returns. But if he needs inspiration, he can look to two other players. In 1972 a malignant tumor was discovered under Gene Littler's left arm. The growth, along with surrounding muscle and nerves, was surgically removed. Littler returned to the Tour within a year, won five tournaments in the late '70s and still competes on the Senior tour. And the LPGA's Shelley Hamlin won the 1992 Phar-Mor at Inverrary—her first victory since 1978—only seven months after a modified radical mastectomy.








Dark Spots

From Michael Jordan to...Dennis Hopper?

Hopper (above), the Olivier of the lunatic fringe, appears in three new Nike television ads that also feature game footage of Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders and Bruce Smith. In the last, a twitchy Hopper, wearing a referee's uniform (why?) and a seedy raincoat (we know why), creeps into a locker room, swipes one of Smith's huge Nikes and smells it.

We shudder to think what audience Nike is going for, but we have a feeling it isn't watching NFL games. Or, more frightening, it is.

But Charo Is Standing By
Perhaps fearing the curse of Michael Jackson, who performed at last January's Super Bowl, at least five big-name performers (Garth Brooks, Billy Joel, Elton John, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen) have turned down the NFL's invitation to headline this season's halftime extravaganza on Jan. 30 at the Georgia Dome.

This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us

In a tribute to recently deceased Hall of Famers, the official 1993 World Series souvenir scorebook, prepared by Major League Baseball, used a photo of Jackie Robinson to illustrate its Roy Campanella entry.

They Said It

•Bob Lee, U.S. Boxing Association president, on the positive cocaine test that last week dethroned USBA heavyweight champ Mike (the Bounty) Hunter: "I don't want to dump on him while he's down, but we don't want a narcotics user to be a national champion."