Twelve years removed from the infamous encounter with legendary Indiana coach Bob Knight that ultimately forced both of them to leave Bloomington, Kent Harvey insists the incident no longer has any bearing on his life.
He doesn't hold a grudge against Knight. He doesn't wake up in a cold sweat with Knight's scowl etched in his memory. In fact, aside from occasional jokes from friends and family members, Knight hardly comes up in his life at all.
"It happened so long ago, at this point, that it's not something I think about every day," Harvey said Tuesday.
Harvey is now an account executive for Dealer Services Corporation in Grand Rapids, Mich., but in the minds of longtime Indiana fans he will forever be remembered for his role in the firing of the most successful coach in their school's history.
Then a 19-year-old freshman in Bloomington, Harvey addressed the longtime coach by saying, "Hey, Knight, what's up?" during a chance meeting on campus in 2000. Knight, on a zero-tolerance policy at the time thanks to his past transgressions, grabbed Harvey's arm and lectured him, chastising him for not saying Coach Knight or Mr. Knight instead of just his last name.
Harvey, now 31, said Tuesday that only Knight's stern tone remains vivid from the conversation. Knight was subsequently fired by then-Indiana school president Myles Brand on Sept. 10, 2000, just a few days after Harvey relayed the incident to campus police.
"I said what I said, but I don't remember the exact words that he said to me," said Harvey, who admitted going blank at the time after getting nervous and flustered during the encounter with such a sporting legend. "But I do remember how I addressed him."
It's ironic that perhaps the least of the hot-headed coach's indiscretions over the years was the final straw for his job. Knight had previously drawn criticism for putting his hands on the neck of an Indiana player, for throwing a chair across the court during a game and for constantly berating referees.
A media circus ensued after Knight's firing and the course of Harvey's life was changed forever.
"Looking back, it was obviously a negative at the time, but good things came from it," said Harvey, who met his wife, Kayla, after moving to Indianapolis in the wake of the incident and called the change of scenery a blessing.
Harvey and his two brothers - the three are triplets - left school in Bloomington after Knight's firing because Harvey was the guy many blamed for sending Knight and his three national titles packing, causing IU's campus to erupt in protest. It also didn't help that their step-father at the time, Mark Shaw, had been a former radio show host in Bloomington who had a penchant for criticizing Knight.
"There were riots, a lot of issues going on," Harvey said. "It was too dangerous to go back to campus. I talked to my parents about it, and we determined that it should be reported (to campus police).
"... But (my brothers and I) really had no issues after we moved."
They bunked with their father and transferred to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Harvey thinks his run-in with the coach has been overblown to be more than what it was.
As for his old school, Indiana has seen more bad times than good since Knight's ouster. After making the 2002 national title game, the Hoosiers haven't been past the second round of the tournament and missed March Madness altogether six times. Only now does No. 18 IU appear to be regaining some of the old glory under Tom Crean.
The topic of Harvey's connection to Knight does come up; His father-in-law who now lives in Arizona had used it as an ice-breaker when introducing Harvey to others. And his history with Knight also has crept into his professional life at Dealer Services Corporation, which bills itself as "America's largest independent inventory financing provider of used vehicles and other diversified automotive products sold by dealers."
"Some of my clients know about it," Harvey said. "It's brought up sometimes, but it's all in good fun, so to speak."
Harvey speaks easily about the run-in with Knight all these years later, but he admits he does regret how he addressed the coach.
"I didn't mean to be disrespectful," Harvey said. "I learned a lot of lessons through that situation. ... But yes, I probably would change what happened if I could do it all over again."
Bob Knight would probably say the same.
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