To recap, if Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight goes postal one
more time with anyone--a player, a fan, yes, even a sportswriter,
he's fired, see ya, thanks for stopping by the booth. Knight
being civil to a sportswriter is like a Doberman being civil to a
pork chop. So, to test Knight's self-control, we've carefully
placed him in this 20-foot-by-20-foot plexiglass booth with the
door bolted and locked.
In the booth are various items--an aerodynamic chair; a potted
rhododendron; a dozen priceless Ming vases; a small, yapping
poodle; and Officer Jose D. Silva of the San Juan Police
Department. We're going to see how long Knight can remain civil
to a member of the press before he pops a vein in his forehead,
goes triple O.J., or requires a tranquilizer dart from the Mutual
of Omaha safari team standing by. Right now Knight looks pretty
stable, despite having lost his third straight game to Illinois
just minutes ago, 101-61.
The questions will come from the Terre Haute Banner's backup
sidebar writer, 19-year-old Tiffany Jo Flowers. Tiffany is
wearing a Kevlar pantsuit, welder's goggles and cleated track
shoes. Tiffany, good luck!
O.K., thanks. Uh, Coach Knight, can you explain why you didn't,
like, press in the third quarter? Illinois's best ball handler
was out with four fouls.
Coach Knight isn't responding. He's staring straight ahead. He's
not even looking at Tiffany. Very good strategy by the wily
Ohh-kay. Let's see here. Now, when you were about to grab the ref
with both hands around the neck just before halftime, were you,
like, mad, or were you just doing your repositioning thing?
Uh-oh. Knight is now staring straight at Tiffany. He's not
blinking. He's getting red there at the top of the ears. For her
part, Tiffany looks very strong, indeed. No knock in her knees
Yeah, what...ever. Coach Knight, you once said about writers,
and I quote, "Most of us learn to write in the second or third
grade and then go on to other things." Were you talking about
Mark Twain, Pearl Buck or William Shakespeare?
Oooh, a pretty good shot from young Tiffany, and Knight looks
hot. His eyebrows are fusing, and the furious tapping of his
right foot is making the vases tremble. Tiffany, you better take
a step back.
No, no, I'm fine, thanks. Coach Knight, when, exactly, did it hit
you that the game had passed you by, 1994 or 1995?
That one rocked the General! He just squeezed the armrest so hard
it broke in half! And he's up! He's pacing around the booth! He's
rubbing the back of his neck! He's biting his knuckles!
Keep going, right?
Keep going, Tiffany.
Coach Knight, you have often spoken of the need for people to be
more disciplined. Were you talking about power forwards or
64-year-old athletic department secretaries?
Uh-oh. Knight has a vase by the neck! Officer Silva is backing
into a corner! Tiffany, you O.K.?
No problem. That red sweater you're wearing is a beauty, Coach.
Do they make it in your size?
Oooh, he came very close to heaving the plant that time! He takes
a huge bite out of the rhododendron instead! He's purple now in
the face and hands! And is that...? It is! We have a facial tic!
The right eye is twitching involuntarily!
You know, I just don't care. I don't. From what I've been told,
this man has been screaming since he came to Indiana. He's yelled
at everybody on our staff! He just has no respect for anyone!
Sorry. O.K., Coach Knight, have you decided yet which team you'll
get creamed by in the first round of the NCAAs this year, or
would you like to play that by ear?
A low blow there, and Knight is doubled over! No, wait! He's
going for the chair! He's going to heave it! But the poodle has
him by the pant cuff! Now he's screaming into a vase! That's not
a violation, but we're getting close! Now Officer Silva uses his
key to leave the booth! Uh-oh, he left the door ajar! Now
Tiffany's moving toward it!
Coach, with this "zero tolerance" thing, it looks like your
school's president is setting you up for one last giant
embarrassment. So, my question is, if firing is inevitable, why
not sit back and enjoy it?
That's it! That's it! I've never seen someone lose it quite like
this! For god's sake, somebody fire the tranquilizer gun!
Not at Knight, you morons! At Tiffany! She's going to reposition
the poor bastard to death!
COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA
To test Bob Knight's self-control, we've placed him in a
plexiglass booth with the door bolted and locked.